The Ama were very open and friendly with me. I don’t think they understood what I was doing there, but they took me on their boat and let me into their huts. The Ama are very open towards other women and they were maternal with me as if I could have been their daughter.—Nina Poppe
Not quite mermaids but not quite of this world either, the Ama women of Japan dive up to 30 meters deep without equipment in search of abalone just off the coast of Japan. Nina Poppe, photographer and filmmaker based in Cologne, Germany, captured a mostly older generation of these deep sea divers for her book aptly titled Ama.
Poppe’s images are a quiet, peaceful testament to the type of life these women have led in this part of Japan, many of them since they were teenagers. She interspersed portraits taken on various boats—pre and post diving—with images of the gardens they keep and exteriors of their abode. Poppe’s collection of images stay above sea level, recognizing that the world below belongs to the Ama.