For centuries, Japanese village women have bene responsible for bringing in the rich summer harvest of the sea.
For centuries, Japanese village women have bene responsible for bringing in the rich summer harvest of the sea. Trained at an early age to swim and dive with the agility of seals, they splash around in the bays and open seas. Often these "seamaids" can dive 30 feet in as many seconds.
Favourite spot for diving is the little fishing village of Shirahama, off the Boso Peninsular on the Pacific coast.
Wearing white shorts and shirts, their hair protected by white sheets - and only black goggles for protection - the women splash about pushing their wooden tubs in front of them. In these containers they store many edible seaweeds and shellfish, from the tiny Asari to the meaty, succulent abalone.
In the same way that winter months are devoted to housework and their homes, so the summer is spent working at sea. More than a thousand years ago, the wives and daughters of Japanese fishermen were harvesting the sea's bed, to provide delicacies for the emperor's table.