Friday, September 2, 2016

The last mermaids of Japan

Among Japan’s last female free divers, Hayashi and Nakanishi stubbornly cling to the old ways of life. Their floor was covered with ashen planks, a charred kettle was on the boil and the roof was black with soot. Face masks and frayed rubber wet suits, the womens’oonly concession to modernity, dripped metronomically from a rail. This timeless scene might seem far removed from contemporary Japan, but the region of Ise-Shima in Mie Prefecture is awash with such maritime tradition.
And none is more fantastical than the stories about the Ama, the enigmatic women of the sea who were first recorded in the oldest Japanese anthology of poetry, the Man’yoshu, in the 8th Century. Read more 


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