|Hmmm. It doesn't seem that these party-ers are a likely|
bunch to save whales, now does it?
Imagine the research (there are several coastal whaling towns--based on various factors, choose Wada Ura), the strategizing (with no ship at your disposal to catch the harpoon boats as they ply the waters a hundred miles from shore, you'll have to wait and watch for a whaling boat to return to the shore station--and then try to stop it from going out again), the preparation (you'll need small inflatable boats, engines, gas tanks, walkie talkies, and a rental van to haul everything), the contacts to be made (Japanese people sympathetic to your cause, but who must be protected from arrest and prosecution).
|Whoops, no offense meant. Go ahead and try it, then. |
But Kevin, how about uncovering your eyes before
you drive that inflatable boat...
It took many months to pull it all together. But somehow we did. Of the larger Greenpeace group that worked on this effort, there were four of us--Bruce, Kevin, Rusty, and me--who went to Wada Ura to wait for the whalers to come in. One little detail: we couldn't let ourselves be seen in Wada Ura. It was a whaling town, and any gaijin (non-Japanese) would immediately be recognized as Greenpeace. Tourists just didn't frequent the little town. If we had any hope of approaching a whaling ship unaware, no one in the town could see us.
|Just your ordinary Japanese person driving to work.|
So how to observe the whaling station in Wada Ura without being observed ourselves? We rigged the rental van with blue curtains behind the driver and across the windows. Now we had somewhere to hide. Rusty became our designated driver by virtue of being the appropriate height and least conspicuous. Even so, she had to wear a cap pulled over her curly hair, and one of the hygienic masks polite Japanese wear when they have a cold.
We stayed many miles away in another, larger town, and Rusty drove us each day to a beach we'd scoped out, from which we could see the whaling station. The plan was to watch for an incoming whaling boat; when one was sighted on the horizon, we'd leap out to inflate our boats, install the engines, and zip out onto the water. (And if we were spotted by beachgoers and recognized as Greenpeace at that point? This was before cell phones, my friends. No worries that someone might call the authorities from a beach, for crying out loud.)
|Bruce & me, watching for whalers. They'll probably|
show up any minute now.
|Boredom and/or a glint of madness in our eyes.|
Somewhere in the middle of those days, I was eating an apple when Rusty rounded on me. The rhythm of my CRUNCH, munch munch munch swallow ... CRUNCH, munch munch munch swallow had become more than the poor woman could bear.
In my defense, it was a very juicy apple.
But as the days went by, we wondered if the whalers had discovered that we were there; we wondered if they had moved their operations to another shore station. We wondered if we were failing the whales, while sitting stupidly in our tin can.
Then, before dusk on the fifteenth day, we noted a little activity at the station. We determined to arrive at daybreak the next morning, just in case...
TOMORROW: Saving Whales: Japan Part 2