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Meet the Ama Pearl Divers in Japan

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by Nicole Diebold

April 20, 2023

3 minute read

Travelers Seek Cultural Experiences in 2023

According to Booking.com, “Travelers are looking for a break from their routines, and 50% want to experience a culture shock in 2023… Almost three-quarters (73%) want to experience travel out of their comfort zone, with 30% keen to explore lesser-known cities to find some hidden gems.”

Japan Reopened and Travelers Are There

Well, traveler, it sounds like you may just need a trip to Japan. Of course, cultural experiences can be had everywhere, but we’ve been thinking a lot about this island nation this month. We sat down with our local expert, Yoshiko Ono, at a virtual presentation to talk all about Japan’s culture, and what travelers can expect when they visit. We’ve shared its fascinating history and been having fun diving deep.

The culture trend is a big one; it’s impacted our tour designs completely because our team gets out there themselves to meet this demand.

Check out our tour designer for Japan, Samantha (Sam) Kern, during her dry run of our brand-new Japan small group tour (note: it’s safe to say we love what we do):

Sam in Japan

Our travelers have been ahead of the trend, because they’ve been demanding immersive and cultural experiences for a long time and we get it. We’re curious, too – about culture, and about everything you can uncover when you travel, everything you can learn about a place. The best experiences teach you something about yourself, as well.

Sam returned from her trip to Japan excited about everything – literally everything – on this small group tour. The travelers will stay overnight in a monastery on Mount Koya amongst Buddhist monks. They’ll walk around in Osaka’s Dotonbori district (the streets look neon in this canalside area). They’ll get to sit down with a survivor of the Atomic Bomb in Hiroshima (or one of their relatives) to hear first-hand accounts.

And… they’ll get to meet the ama divers.

The Ama Divers Dive (Literally) into Culture and Traditions

Sam spoke a lot about the ama divers – and it was something I had never heard of. Who were they? Why had this experience stood out amongst an amazing week of experiences, to cause this reaction?

It’s because of these incredible women. Their traditions. Their life’s work. Their norm-defying legacy.

Ama Divers

Forbes.com highlighted the “ama” sharing a history that goes back 2,000 to 3,000 years. The women begin diving at 12 years old and continue into their 70s, withstanding freezing temperatures. Ama divers are extraordinary freestyle divers who dive for fish, seaweed and pearls. Traditionally in Japan society, the man is the breadwinner. These women defy conventional gender roles every day.

Collette travelers who meet these female divers get to watch them take the plunge into the sea during a demonstration. They dine with some of them in a traditional Ama hut for lunch. The women grill a seafood dinner over an open flame and invite travelers to have a conversation with them. It’s so much more than a meal.

This is one of the coolest immersive experiences – and it’s unique to Collette. Witnessing the divers doing their thing but then also getting to dine with them and connect – to really learn about this tradition and what it means to them… that’s the best part.

Ama Divers

Meet the ‘ama’ for yourself on our new small group Explorations tour. Because I’m telling you, Japan needs to be on your list (if it’s not already).

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Amazon Engagement