Several years ago, when I first began studying the benefits of Japanese Camellia Oil, I came upon an unexpected discovery: numerous texts referencing Ama using Camellia Oil for skin.

I called my friend Yoko, a wise and wonderful translator who was helping me in my research, and asked her what an “Ama” was. I could hear her smile through the phone and she said, "Oh Vicky-san, you will love the Ama. They are Japanese female free divers who farm in the sea." 

Fascinated by the idea of these strong, beautiful sea-farming women, I began to read more about them.

I found that Japanese Ama female free divers are responsible for some of the early reports of mermaids. Clad in only a loincloth, these women would dive to depths of 80 feet to harvest the treasures of the ocean. Their traditions have been documented for the last 2,000 years (references to Ama have been found in an 8th century book of poetry).

Ama are extraordinarily in touch with the natural world. They were among the first to notice the ocean’s rising temperatures, and eschew modern trappings like oxygen tanks in favor of traditional free diving.

To protect themselves in frigid ocean waters, Ama took advantage of camellia oil benefits for skin and would coat their bodies with Japanese Camellia Oil—the same Camellia Oil responsible for the lustrous hair and gleaming skin of the Oshima Island girls. Geisha learned of the incredible, proven benefits of Camellia Oil for skin and began applying it after bathing to protect their own skin, leaving it nourished and glowing. I have always found inspiration in the past, and this story is particularly striking to me. Centuries of history and generations of wisdom surround this delicate, beautiful flower and the oil it imparts. We created our new Gold Collection (specifically our Gold Camellia Beauty Oil and our Camellia Cleansing Oil) to share Camellia with you, as well as to honor and carry on the timeless practices of beautiful women like the Ama.

-Vicky

Victoria Tsai
Chief Treasure Hunter

published May 2013

Geisha, Travel, Kyoto
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