Japanese female breath-hold diversf known as ama
bring up seaweed, abalone, shellfish, natural pearls, and oysters. The
ama can hold breath longer than men and withstand cold water better due
to body fat. Traditionally, they wore a simple loincloth. Nowadays, the
white cloth scares off sharks and offer protection against poisonous
jellyfish. Once, a popular business for women in the countryside is
whistle is a distinct method of breathing for the
They breathe slowly and quietly through pursed lips to increase air
pressure in the lungs.
In group diving situations, the whistle is also a way of subconsciously
identifying and locating each other providing safety as well as respect
for work territories.
These melancholic, whistling sounds have been called the elegy of the
sea and are
sometimes referred to as sea lament (iso
nageki) for their sigh-like quality.
Abalone Offering of the Ise Grand Shrine, Mie
myth describes a deity who is travelling in a region in search of a
suitable location to enshrine the Sun Goddess Amaterasu. One day, a
offers an abalone to the deity. The deity is most impressed and requests
that the abalone be made as an offering in the Sun Goddessf Shrine. The
sacred abalone must be harvested from the regionfs most easterly point
where the first sunrise is sighted.
Story of the Poor Woman Diver
Long time ago, a very handsome young man sailed from the Capital
of Nara to a small seaside village where he fell in love with a humble
seaweed diver. Soon they married and had a pretty baby boy. One day the
husband revealed that he was a son of the most distinguished
His younger sister, who was married to the Emperor of China, had
sent forth three very precious things to the Emperor of Japan. One of
the gifts was a magic drum which never ceased emitting a most exquisite
sound until it was covered with nine layers of silken robes. Another was
a unique ink stone which could produce the finest ink without applying a
drop of water to the stone. The last was a crystal ball enshrining an
image of the Buddha who never failed to face you at whichever angle you
looked into the ball.
But while the treasure ship was sailing through the
a Dragon King sent out a tremendous thunderstorm as well as legions of
dragons against the small vessel. The men fought bravely, but to avoid
losing everything they were forced to give up the crystal to appease the
dragons. The young husband could not forget the Ball of Buddha and
sailed over to the coast closest to the sea-battle to find a way to
retrieve the ball from the dragons.
The wife said that I could bring the crystal back to you and then
you could make the son of ours your heir. The young man consented
without hesitation, assuring her that the boy would have a brilliant
future as his heir. The very next day they sailed out into the sea. The
woman put a long lifeline around her waist and with a knife in her hand
quietly disappeared into the depths. She went through the cold darkness
of the deep until she found herself in front of a towering palace
guarded by eight dragons and swarms of crocodiles.
Praying for the help of Kannon the wife burst into the palace, snatched
the ball and ran, closely pursued by the infuriated sea-monsters. As
they caught up with her at the gate of the palace, she quickly cut
herself below the breast, inserted the crystal ball and fell down as if
dead. The woman pulled on the lifeline held by her husband above and the
man hauled up his wife. But to his horror she was dying. In her breast
the husband found the Ball of Buddha.