In the small seaside village of Onjuku, Japan, the ‘Ama’ (Women of the Sea) would dive deep on a single breath to collect abalone and other ocean treasures in a tradition that had lasted for hundreds of years. Iconic images from the 1930’s show strong, joyful women, confident in their own skins, full of laughter and grace and comraderie.
Pacha Light, a 17 year old aspiring pro-surfer, saw these photos and was moved. She wanted to find out more. Through family friends Pacha found her way from the Gold Coast, Australia to Onjuku, Japan to meet Ms. Mastuda (71) and Ms. Shitou (84), to dive into their ocean and dance on their waves. These were two of the last ‘Ama’ whose images as young, mermaid free divers capture a spirit of freedom and exuberance, like a breath of fresh air for young women today.