Portraits of Courage Across Continents

Empowered women sit at the heart of Aman Essentials. In anticipation of International Women’s Day, our collaboration with Nest celebrates not only those who come to the fore but the collective spirit of all inspiring women worldwide. It’s a tribute to their resilience, their creativity, and their ongoing journey, not only on 8 March but every day.

At the heart of all craft lies dedication, practice and skill. This International Women’s Day we celebrate the life-long journey to mastery taken by three unique Aman women. On a daily basis they inspire and bring joy to local communities through their talents of mind, body and soul.

Aman Essentials x Nest

In support of craftswomen around the world, this International Women’s Day we have partnered with Nest, a nonprofit organization that supports the responsible growth and creative engagement of the artisan and maker economy worldwide. Their vision is to build a world of greater gender equality and inclusion by celebrating women’s work.

Naoko Sugiyama from Ise-Shima, Japan

For centuries the ama of Ise-Shima have been the most skilled freedivers in Japan, plunging into icy waters year-round to harvest pearls, abalone and giant prawns by hand. Female bodies were thought to resist the cold better than men’s, and traditionally these brave women would plunge topless into the sea equipped with nothing more than a knife and wooden basket. Later, they began to don white robes, creating their own distinct image of Japanese femininity.

‘Ama fishing has been a livelihood for women for over 2,000 years’ says Naoko Sugiyama, one of few remaining divers upholding this remarkable and unique tradition. ‘When I have the opportunity to dive with other ama, it is a special time, as together we embark on the same ritual before entering the sea. I love to hear the ‘isobue’ breath that an ama takes when she emerges from the water – it sounds like a whistle.’

‘To experience an underwater world without any unnecessary sounds is awe-inspiring and relaxing’

Guests at serene onsen resort Amanemu in Japan can encounter these amazing women by joining a veteran ama as she dives for seafood.

Ibu Lipet from Kedewatan, Bali

Every morning Ibu Lipet, guardian of harmony for more than three decades, travels from Balinese village Kedewatan to Amandari with an armful of gratitude offerings, known as canang sari. Her job is to harmonise the balance between all living beings and spirits, which she does not only through her colourful crafted offerings but also her infectious positivity. During harvest season, she has also been known to share bounty from her flourishing vegetable garden, embodying the spirit of Amandari with her grace and generosity.

‘Women pay a pivotal role in Balinese spirituality,’ she says, ‘appeasing ancestors, honouring gods, and connecting with the spirit world. From a young age my mum taught me the intricacies of creating offerings and participating in temple processions to honour my ancestors. Now I take pride that my own daughter has chosen to embrace and continue on the path I’ve paved.’

‘Harmony and respect shown towards women contribute to the happiness of the deities.’

Book a stay at lush tropical resort Amandari in Bali to meet Ibu Lipet as she goes about her daily rituals.

Chizuru Morii Kaplan from New York, USA

Born in Japan and based in New York, Chizuru Morii Kaplan studied architectural and interior design in Tokyo, and worked as a freelance architectural renderer for two decades before transitioning into the art world. Now a specialist in watercolour, she’s been awarded a fellowship from the Paris American Academy and has exhibited in the likes of The National Arts Club Gallery, the Salmagundi Club, and the Springfield Art Museum.


Chizuru’s recent Peony Series explores themes connected to femininity. ‘No matter how harsh the winter, peony flowers bloom beautifully every spring, opening their petals with all their might. Through these paintings, I’d like to convey that we must always believe in ourselves and have hope.’

‘Believe in your unique potential and continue to strive for your dreams’

Stay at Aman New York, set in the iconic Crown Building, and see Chizuru and other local artists at work.

Gift with purpose

Gifting with thought makes memories that linger. Timeless tokens of gratitude can be savoured and treasured, bringing joy again and again with every use.