Off-the-Eaten Path Food Experience in Japan. "Meet the People and Places behind your Plates! "

Sunday 31 July 2016

Visit the ingredients (5) Where sea foods are grown in toshi island

Toshi island, toba, mie prefecture

3 hours train journey from Kyoto and a 30-min boat trip from Toba, the Toshi island (答志島) will lead you to the living of bountiful ocean. 

Seaweeds, small fishes, and squids are hunging under the eaves together with laundry. The letter "八" on the doors of each entrance is a talisman for safty. Colorful Jinjiro guruma (hand cart for carrying sea products) can be seen everywhere, which produces unique landscape of the islands.

The other trait which makes this island unique is ama culture. Ama (海女) is a female diver.   

What is Ama?

Ise-Shima (伊勢志摩) is also known as the home of "ama". They dive for sea foods such as abalone or seashells without scuba or air tanks. Usually they only wear white clothe without black suits, and some dive naked.

Why they only rely on themselves and do not use any equipments? - Thins is to conserve biodiversity of ocean environment. Wearing suits and air tanks result in over-hunting. The traditional diving style is a tacit understanding between ama for sea resource management.

There are around 2,000 divers in Japan and 800 of the active ama divers are in the Ise-Shima region.

ama goya, diver's hut
A ama diver was hunging sea weeds in the beach in front of her hut, and led me to her hut.

"Diving had been a livelihood of women from ancient time. Well, women wear more fat than men, you know? Of course it is cold to dive in winter but it is warmer in the sea. It is much more tough when out from sea. That's why we make fire in the hut beside sea to heat ourselves here."

inside the hut
Visitors can eat sea products at one of the ama hut. It is the hut set for the tourists, but you can feel the atmosphere of the living of the sea.

ama goya experience at woman diver's hut

Other fishing landscape of this island.

mekabu, root of the wakame sea weed.
This can be preserved in salt.

Unlike other part of Japan, the village houses of Toshi islands are very colorfully painted, which create the atmosphere of marine island.


From Tokyo :
[Rail] 1h 40 min to Nagoya by JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line, and 1h 30 min from Kintetsu Nagoya to Toba Station by Kintetsu Line (limited express).

From Osaka :
[Rail] 2h from Namba to Toba Station by Kintetsu Line (limited express).

See also