© 2019 海女 | Toba & Shima Ama (Japanese Female Freedivers) | 日本

Toba Sea-Folk Museum, MIE UNIVERSITY AMA RESEARCH CENTER,

AMA Promotion Council & the Toba Chamber of Commerce

Shirongo Matsuri

Sugashima

(Suga Island)

Toba City

July 11th

Held on July 11th each year in Sugashima, Toba City, Shirongo means white beard. It refers to the guardians of the island, Shirohige Daimyoujin (Great God of White Beard) and Ryujin Daimyoujin (Great God of Dragon). About 700 long years ago, when the white snake appeared in Sugashima, it was worshiped as a messenger of the Dragon God, and the islanders prayed for maritime safety. It said this is how this festival was started. Ama from the island, in white isogi outfits, gather at Shirongo beach at 8 AM. After purification by the Shinto priest, a conch signals ama to dive all at once and gather abalone at Shirongo beach, which is usually a prohibited fishing area. Ama race to hunt for one set of male and female abalone. The first pair of abalone caught are called “Maneki Awabi' (Welcome Abalone) and offered to Shirohige Shrine. The ama who catches Maneki Awabi will be respected as head of ama for a year.

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