An accomplished Italian photographer and Oriental observer (Meeting with Japan) seeks the Japanese ""children of the sea""--the isolated Ama culture--and finds these mythological sea women on the island of Hekura in the Sea of Japan. Unspoiled by commercial tourism, the Ama women from 16 to 45 years of age engage in underwater food-gathering. Naked, efficient, and reserved-they dive every day for edible seaweed and shellfish (abalone). Maraini tells the story of the excursion--his winning them over with a strange harpoon gun and his subsequent introduction to the Ama way of life. Better than the text, of course, are the profuse and excellent photographs (color and black/white) of the sea people which succeed in making the whole venture a credible and fascinating one. The underwater shots are especially fine. Beautiful and rare travel lore.