Clear Nude: The Lens + the Nude, Issue IV, Summer 2015 ClearNude: The Lens + the Nude, Issue IV, Summer - Page 67

With lack of young women to succeed their elders and This culture of national mermaids diving for the nation is modernisation of Japan’s fisheries however, this an- not unique to Japan. Since 2007, Korea has been pre- cient practice is dwindling. Numbers have dropped to senting its best case to have the Haenyo divers of Jeju just 1/8th of what they once were. In 1956 there were Island listed as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. 17,611 Ama in Japan but as of 2010 only 2,174 re- In similar fashion, Japan has now joined the races by mained. Of those, 973 (nearly half) work in either Toba recommending its own female divers, boosted by the or Shima city, Mie prefecture. popularity of a recent NHK drama ‘Amachan,‘ starring a young girl who moves to the Tohoku region of Japan to As technology progressed, the Ama communities were became an Ama diver. faced with decisions – adopt new tools and equipment or retain traditions? One of the most important parts of Although perhaps the scantily-clad, romanticised im- the decision-making was the consideration of sustain- age of the profession is a thing of the past, there’s still ability. New fishing methods could easily enable greater a rich history and culture that needs to be conveyed to hauls and reduce work, but at the same time, increase younger generations. The tourism industry at Mikimoto the risk of overfishing and damaging the delicate eco- Pearl is a great start to help preserve the memory, but systems that supported life for these coastal towns. the age-old fishing traditions held by small coastal vil- Rules were introduced to prevent this. lages are definitely in need of special attention to make sure their heritage isn’t forgotten completely. ‡ On Hegura island in Wajima city, rules state that abalone under 10 centimetres must be returned to the sea, with a punishment of two days without work if caught breaking them. Despite their efforts however, numbers of abalone and other shellfish have been in decline, in part due to overfishing, but also the rising sea temperatures which affects the growth of seaweed the shellfish eat. Clear Nude | Summer 2015 67