Federico Borella

Photojournalist
  
Women of the sea
Location: bologna
Nationality: Italian
Biography: Federico Borella is a photojournalist working for QN (Quotidiano Nazionale ), national newspaper in Bologna, Italy. Since 2009 to date—he has also contributed to La Repubblica and L'Espresso Group.  Internationally published ,... read on
Public Story
Women of the sea
Senza titolo 2

In Japanese, “Ama” means “women of the sea”, and this name is referred to Japanese pearls divers who strike the magination of artists, writers and poets for more than two thousand years, becoming protagonists of fantastic and evocative stories.

It is surprising to discover that nowadays, these elderly mermaids wich median age is 70 years, practice this activity like in the past: Ama dive holding their breath, without oxygen tanks, but only with a mask, and they catch shellfish and seaweeds with bare hands.

During the free-diving, which arrives at 30 meters into cold waters, Ama use a special technique to hold their breath for up to 2 minutes at a time, and they repeat it about 60 times each round.
When Ama divers come to surface, they make a particular sound called “Ama isobue”, often translated as “mermaids singing”, which is a whistle produced by hyperventilation.

They all have strong lung, they start to practice from childhood, and that’s why a lot of Ama are still in activity at the age of 80. Many divers manage the “Ama-hut”, or “Amagoya”, coastal huts used for restoration of typical sea products caught during diving.

The Ama practicing today in the entire Japan, are less than two thousand, most of them live in the region of Ise-Shima, along Toba bay in the Mie Prefecture. Their image is a symbol of the region itself, so that the Prefecture has nominated Ama to Unesco as Intangible Cultural Heritage.

The entire Ama culture in fact, is going to disappear: numbers have reduced so drastically that there are now fewer than 2,000 practicing — 8,000 fewer than in their post-WWII heyday.
Few young Japanese women want to preserve this tradition, like Aiko Ohno, 37, one of the youngest professional Ama divers in Japan, pictured in this reportage.

In the next 20 years the younger generation must keep diving to preserve the tradition, but few young Japanese women see the benefits. The seafood trade isn’t as lucrative as it once was, and jobs in Osaka, Nagoya and Tokyo are more appealing.





6,942

By Federico Borella —

STORY

That's a WRAP!

By Michela Balboni — That’s a WRAP! Japan wraps everything in plastic. Fruit and vegetables are individually and meticulously wrapped in sealed transparent..
STORY

Of water and people

By Federico Borella — Each year, excess nutrients from cities and farms are drained into the Gulf of Mexico trough the Mississippi River. An overabundance of nitrates..
STORY

Five Degrees

By Federico Borella — FIVE DEGREES How climate change is influencing India’s farmer suicides.                    ..
STORY

Crystal Meth

By Federico Borella — Crystal Meth is a totally synthetic drug which comes in the form of white crystals. It can be sniffed, smoked in a glass pipe or injected. It is..
STORY

Indian Summer - Amusement park

By Federico Borella — Indian Summer: Amusement Park Industry The amusement park industry in India is more than two decades old and is still at nascent stage. The first..
STORY

Living with the attacker

By Federico Borella — LIVING WITH THE ATTACKER   Geeta and her daughter Neetu are still living with the man who, 25 years ago, disfigured them with the acid.  ..
STORY

Aiko: diving to preserve the traditions

By Federico Borella — Aiko: diving to preserve the traditions Toba province, Mie prefecture, Japan, Sept. 2016. Aiko Ohno, 37, is one of the youngest professional Ama..
STORY

The sun mirror village

By Federico Borella — Located in a narrow valley three hours north-west from Oslo, Rjukan counts 3400 inhabi- tants, who during the cold winter months from September to..
STORY

Warabistan - The Kurdish limbo in Japan

By Federico Borella — Warabistan “WARABISTAN” - The Kurdish limbo in Japan - In a country like Japan, with increasing demographic crisis and shortage of workforce..
STORY

Sheroes - after the acid attack

By Federico Borella — The Sheroes Hangout Cafe is not a place like any other. It’s unique in the world. Customers are served coffee, of course, but the women who work..
STORY

The enduring life of a quad amputee veteran

By Federico Borella — March 26 th 2010. Cpl. Todd Nicely, 26, was leading a patrol in Lakari, Helmand province, south Afghanistan, with 12 Marines of the 1 st Squad, 1..
Join us
for more access