Seafood Straight From The Ocean Floor

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FOOD: Seafood, straight from the ocean floor

Head to Japan’s Ise-Shima region and you’ll get the chance to taste some of the country’s freshest, tastiest shellfish – lifted straight from the sea floor by the country’s few remaining Ama – female free divers.

Setting their days by the rhythms of the ocean, Japan’s Ama uphold a tradition dating back almost 3000 years, scouring the ocean floor for seafood without the aid of an air tank. Many of Ise-Shima’s Ama are now in their 60s and 70s, but continue to spend up to two minutes at a time underwater, hunting for oysters, abalone, lobster and scallops.

Despite numbers of Ama declining as younger women opt not to take up the tradition, it is still possible to enjoy the ocean spoils collected by local free-divers, and even dine with the Ama themselves – for example at Aman’s hot-spring resort, Amanemu. Must try dishes include the regions famously sweet Ise-lobster, in particular the brain, which is considered a national delicacy. Foraged throughout the summer and into the Autumn, the bitter taste of the turban shell abalone is also considered a local speciality. Then of course oyster season, from November to April, attracts hordes of culinary tourists keen to shuck some of Japan’s finest shells. Head to Uramura, just outside Toba, where during high season huts open up for people to hop between, sampling oysters sourced straight from the peninsula’s many bays.

Want to know more? Watch our Great Big Story, Freediving with Japan’s Pearl Divers, made in partnership with CNN.

Photo: Roderick Eime 

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