From the Robb Report:
Ohno is part of an elite group of women known as ama uminchu, who for thousands of years have hunted for seafood and pearls in the depths of the Pacific Ocean, just off the coast of Toba, in the Ise-Shima region of Japan’s Mie prefecture. One of the country’s oldest professions, dating back to the Jōmon Period (14,000 to 300 BC), the ama have long been comprised almost solely of female free divers, largely because women have more subcutaneous fat than men, and can therefore retain body heat better. And in the past, when diving suits were nothing but a loincloth, keeping warm was a matter between life and death.
Today, the time-honored culture of the ama persists, though it has waned in recent decades. In 1949, there were 6,109 ama in the cities of Toba and Shima, according to the Toba Sea-Folk Museum; today there are only about 760 on the Shima peninsula. In the past, the role of the amahas been passed down from one generation of women to the next. But these days, the average age of a modern ama is 65, giving rise to the fear that this revered profession may cease to exist in the near future.
read more here @ Robb Report