For over two thousand years, the "Ama" of Japan have been free-diving the open Pacific Ocean for shellfish.
“Funado” divers are deep water divers who work off shore. There are increasingly few of them remaining in Japan.
The tools of the diving trade are few and simple. A weight belt, float, and net. Fins and wet suits were added only in the 1960s.
Free-diving or breath-hold diving is done without oxygen tanks and is difficult and dangerous work.
Most veteran divers haunt the same grounds for decades. Their knowledge of the reef is borne of countless hours of diving.
In November, divers search for sea cucumber. Summer months are reserved for Abalone.
Etched into the hood of diver’s wetsuits are the "Seiman" and "Doman" symbols thought to ward off danger.
Traditional masks don't permit divers to equalize their ears to release pressure from descent, leaving many with ruptured ear drums.
The "Ama-Goya" is a makeshift hut where divers gather to spend time together warming up from cold winter waters.
A diver warms her hands after hours in the ocean.
The island of Kami-shima was the setting for Yukio Mishima's novel, "The Sound of Waves." It captured the traditional island life of fisherman and free-divers.
A boarded up home on Kami-Shima island. Many youth forgo Japan’s remote coastal areas today for life in the city.
Summer, Meoto Iwa, Mie, Japan.