1 Feb 2017

The Secret Behind Japan’s Oldest Mermaids

Mermaid’s don’t exist, and they most certainly can’t sing. Just try to sing under water. Impossible, right? Well, this might be true for the rest of the world, except Japan. Yes, Japan has real mermaids. They do exist. And I’m betting that some of them can even probably sing – given that they’re not going to sing for you from under the waves. It wasn’t that surprising if you ask me. After all, Japan is awesome. They have robots and vendo machines for literally EVERYTHING.

What’s more is that you can even visit these mermaids and they can serve you what is probably the most delicious seafood you’ll ever taste.

The Mermaids of Ise-Shima

The mermaids of Ise-Shima are called Ama and they are known Japan’s female shell divers. The tradition of shell-diving is among Japan’s oldest traditions, with the first record being included in the country’s oldest anthology of poetry dating three thousand years old.

Every morning these fierce women would strip down to only their loincloths and bandanas (yes they were almost naked save the loincloths), and they would brave the seas to collect rare pearl oysters. They would dive, without any diving gear whatsoever, sometimes stay under the water a couple of minutes at a time, and return with treasures at hand.

A thousand years later, the very modernity of Japan, with its robots and vendo machines, is threatening to kill this tradition. Few and few women are willing to risk their lives in order to dive the freezing waters of their country…and for what? The rare treasures are almost gone, and all they can harvest now are seafood and seaweeds. The careers they could take in Tokyo, in the more modern cities definitely pay more and require less risk. However, for the older women of Ise-Shima (women as old as 80yrs old still dive), as long as their lungs could hold, they will keep diving and keep risking their lives for their sacred art.