What is an Ama Diver?
Before we head over to Osatsucho, let’s first talk about the Ama Diver. Ama Divers are female free divers who carry around a Ama’s float and collect sea items such as seaweed, shellfish, and Iseebi. This tradition has been around as early as the year 750 and the Ama Diver tradition is considered an important part of Japan’s history and culture.
Ama Diving was done mainly by females because they believed that women are more capable of withstanding cold waters due to the thicker layer of fat. Ama Divers would dive up to 30 feet to collect seafood and would even hold their breaths for up to 2 minutes at times!
An Endangered Tradition
There are rules and regulations placed by the local governments on when, how often, and what you can collect while Ama Diving.
Arriving at Osatsucho
It seems that we’ll be doing a Nordic Walking tour of Osatsucho.
The Art of Nordic Walking
Depending on the way you use the poles, Nordic walking can be done as either a sport or used to make everyday walking easier, which makes it perfect for a walking tour around a small town.
Nomura-san gave us a quick tutorial on how to use them to aid our normal walk. After a few minutes of practice, we were fully trained Nordic walkers and it was time to embark on the tour!
Types of Courses
The beginner course is 4km long and roughly takes 1hr 30 minutes. This course is the “tourist” route and is suited for tourists who come to Osatsucho and want to see the main spots like the beach, Ama huts, and the Shinmei shrine.
The intermediate course is 7km long and takes roughly 3-4 hours. This is the “tourist plus” route and covers the same places as the beginner course, but also includes additional places for a more complete tour of Osatsucho.
Finally, the advanced course is 9km long and takes roughly 4-5 hours. This is the “sport” course and completes a full lap around Osatsucho, venturing out to every nook and cranny of the village.
Since this was our first time, we decided to go with the beginner course.
In an instant, the scenery changed from coast to mountain, and back to coast once we reached the other side of the peninsula. From here, we had a full view of Osatsucho from the seaside and our guide pointed out the Ama huts in the distance, where we would head to next.
The Osatsucho Ama Huts
It seems like today is the day for spring cleaning.
Most of the Ama Divers were older but they were moving swiftly and everybody was in sync with each other. We got to take a small peek inside the huts and you could see the different equipments they use and their day to day life.
Some of the divers seemed to recognize Nomura-san and from the way they conversated, I could see the strong bond that exists in Osatsucho.
During the entire time, Nomura-san was such an excellent tour guide. He was really easy to talk to and made efforts to explain each location, its culture, and its beauty. You could tell he loves his hometown and wants to share what it has to offer.
The Shinmei Shrine
This shrine worships the Ishigami God and it is said that by praying here, a “single wish of a woman can be fulfilled” so Ama Divers would often come to pray at the shrine before heading out to sea.
Thoughts on the Nordic Walking Tour
Overall, my first Nordic Walking experience was awesome! As expected, the 4km that we walked felt like nothing on my legs but I could feel that my upper body went through a workout. It definitely makes it easy to walk long distances while getting a balanced overall workout.
Next time I’ll definitely be going for the 6km intermediate course!
Lunch at a Local Hidden Gem
The secret of popularity is volume and freshness!
We drove on over to a parking lot next to a local, average looking restaurant. Inside there were only about 7 counter seats and 3 tables packed full of people.
We walked through the narrow path between the tables and the counter seats to get to the last available table at the other side of the entrance.
Surprisingly,more and more appetizers are coming out besides the items I ordered!
What I couldn’t believe was the price.
The 6 items on the menu ranged from the cheapest being 3,000 yen and the most expensive item at 18,000yen. I had to triple check that I’m reading the menu correctly. This is the kind of price you’d see at a high end wagyu restaurant. I was really curious what the 18,000yen option entails but I ended up ordering the 3,000 yen dish.
I ordered the fried fish set, one of the 3,000 yen items. Along with the main dish, there was fresh sashimi, pickled fish and vegetables, and a bowl of rice.
I took a bite into the deep-fried horse mackerel and instantly my impression changed. The fish inside was really juicy and didn’t have a fishy smell at all. Despite being fried, it was also very light! Easily the best fried fish I’ve ever had.
The meal was more filling than it looked. By the time I finished my meal, I was so full, I couldn’t eat another bite. As we were walking out, I took a glance at another group’s order and in the middle was a wooden boat figure that was loaded with thick pieces of sashimi.
That had to be the 18,000 yen item.