Ijika, Toba city in Mie prefecture.
This is where 'Ama' live. Ama, so called breath-hold female divers, is one of the oldest traditional job and lifestyle of women who live near the ocean.
Ama hold their breath and dive into the ocean to catch a variety of shellfish & seaweeds.
Diving is not a fun activity for them, it's the way how they make their living.
Ama are very religious, and still keep up old tradition.
You may be surprised to see that people talk about a number of superstitions and how important those magical customs are.
Mysterious and Cozy, Old but New.
This is Ijika, where Ama live.
Come visit our fishing village.
You will see a real life of people who live together with the ocean.
September 2015, I quit my job and moved to Ijika where my husband lived as a fisherman.
I was working for a major company in Nagoya, and worked for its overseas business department, sending e-mails and answering calls from all over the world.
At that time, My husband and I were living separately and see each other only on weekends. That was the marriage life we chose to have, and we enjoyed it.
So, why did I start being Ama?
To tell you the truth, I have experienced neither diving nor snorkeling before I came here. Ocean was just a world that I completely had no idea, and I have never thought of coming to this fishing village and starting Ama.
It was just because I was curious about the world of Ama and their lifestyle.
My neighbor (she's now my Ama mentor) is over 80 years old, but she's still so healthy and active, and good at catching abalones.
I don't know anybody who earns that much money at the age of 80.
Lifestyle of Ama is well-balanced.
They enjoy life as women, wives, or mothers, but still they can be independent and earn as much as their husbands (sometimes more).
When I first heard about Ama and their lifestyle, I thought this is an ideal lifestyle for women in Japan. And I started to think about becoming Ama someday in the future when I get old. But when I look around, all Ama in the town were aged, and there was no one to take over this job. I realized that
'someday' might not come if I don't start it right now. Working at a major company in a big city was quite fun, and I loved the job. But I was not sure if I can continue working and advance my career after I have children.
The idea of becoming an Ama popped into my head.
My friends and family were really surprised at my decision.
But I couldn't stop myself, because this is my life.
I wanted to know whether lifestyle of Ama still makes women as independent as old days, and it still can be a career choice for women in this era.
I am here because I want to know about Ama and its future.
As a person who moved from other city and started being an Ama, I started thinking that I wanted to share what I've learnt and seen with more people.
Ama is getting famous recently since it became a theme of a TV drama and some documentaries were broadcast.
Many people know Ama dive into the ocean and catch shellfish, like the famous abalones.
But still, it is hidden from outside, and is really mysterious.
So, my husband and I decided to make a place where everyone can come to experience real life of fishermen and Ama.
We would like more people to touch and feel the real lifestyle of fishermen and Ama. The excitement, joy, difficulties, fear ... we show you everything.
We always welcome our guests as friends or family members.
So, please feel free and relax while you are staying here, and ask us whatever you want to know.
We are looking forward to meeting you.
In this town, people speak local dialect called 'Ijika-ben'.
And our guest house name 'AMARGE' was inspired by a local word 'Ama-ge'.
'Ama-ge' means 'house of older sister'.
I want my guest house to be like an 'Ama-ge' for anybody. A place where people gather to share their opinions and ideas.
If people are facing difficulties living in this town, I wish I can be there to listen and support them like their older sister.
Between 'Ama (older sister)' and 'ge (house)',
I added R. This R represents myself, Rikako.
I wish I can be in the middle of 'inside & 'outside', 'people & ocean', and 'town & country'.
The name AMARGE infuses my hope and resolution.
More information and live event in the town.