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The last ‘ama’ fisherwomen of Japan: Free-dive fishing tradition in danger as diver numbers plunge



In Mie prefecture’s Masaki Island, for instance, there used to be more than 1,000 people working in the industry. Today, there are only 40, with many of them elderly.
As the number of pearl farmers declines, related businesses with century-long histories are also dwindling. 
Over in Kashikojima, an island in Mie known for its pearl jewellers, many of the owners are getting on in years. 
Faced with diminishing prospects, younger people there are moving to the big cities to find work.
“The industry is gradually shrinking, with fewer people,” said Mr Naoto Yoshimori, president of pearl jeweller Yoshimori Pearls. 
He fears his third-generation family business would end with him, as his children do not appear keen to take over the store. 
“I have two sons. They have moved on in different directions,” said Mr Yoshimori. 
“I will try to keep going for a little bit more. If they come home, they don’t need to work hard. It could be their side business.”


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