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SAYONARA OSAKA: A Diary From The Dolphin Massacres Pt. 1

| posted on July 22, 2010

North. Shinkansen N700 Series bullet train, the fastest of the line, 162 mph like a bat out of hell for Osaka. Out the window a blur of industrialized tropical landscape pickets by, predicting Bali in another 50 years—bucolic green woodcut rice paddies sprouting Good Smile fish factories and dingy chaotic apartment blocks.

The journey, which began last November with an afternoon couch rap with Sea Shepherd’s Paul Watson, has taken Rasta and our small team from Hawaii to Australia to Alaska to California to the Galapagos and Tonga. Along the way we’ve met shamans and rock stars, aboriginal tribal elders, A-list actors, cetacean scientists and dreadheaded vegan eco-pirates.

Next stop, Kyoto. The Shinkansen, which goes so fast as to create a mini-sonic boom exiting from a tunnel, is famed for meeting its schedule within six seconds. As long as we negotiate the cross connection at Shinagawa station I think we’ll make our outbound flight barring any extended discussions with passport control at Narita International.

Across the aisle Justin Krumb, director and co-producer of “Minds In The Water”, is sacked out behind black wraparounds and a impenetrable hitman goatee. He’s the biggest man on the train, a foot taller and roughly twice as wide of the average Tokyo sariman sitting in our car. This makes him an easy target, especially since the Wakayama police took down everybody’s passport vitals following the second Taiji event 48 hours ago.

In my front pants pocket is a matchbox-sized videocassette marked “Taiji #2”. The rest of the Japanese footage was Fedexed out the day previous just in case the long arm of the Japanese Fishery Agency, quite possibly the most powerful actor of Japanese politics, decided to toss our rooms and steal embarrassing evidence of systematic and quite horrific cetacean genocide.

Beyond the routine paranoia associated with extended sleep deprivation, this is quite a real possibility in a polite police state such as Japan. The government has been thoroughly effective thus far in suppressing the dolphin-kill issue in the mainstream Japanese media or dismissing it as outside anti-Japanese propaganda. And then there’s been those disconcerting clicks and hums on the hotel phones.

This tape, less than 45 minutes of raw footage, holds the natural climax of a one-year documentary journey of professional free-surfer Dave Rastovich’s personal commitment to step outside the pro-surfer comfort bubble in order to help the dolphins and whales he loves so much.

The journey, which began last November with an afternoon couch rap with Sea Shepherd’s Paul Watson, has taken Rasta and our small team from Hawaii to Australia to Alaska to California to the Galapagos and Tonga. Along the way we’ve met shamans and rock stars, aboriginal tribal elders, A-list actors, cetacean scientists and dreadheaded vegan eco-pirates.

And many many surfers. All nations, colors, creed and choice of equipment. All share a common wonder and respect for what many cultures call “the children of the sea” for their curious, oddly empathetic natures. Or perhaps the only thing odd about that notion is that we humans find it astounding to consider other species might feel emotions or pain.

Slowing for Nagoya, approaching noon. By now the Rastovich’s should be checking out of their Osaka hotel under assumed names and trailing us to Tokyo on a later train. Word had come up from our friends in Taiji that Monday’s action had so infuriated the local fishermen that they were demanding the arrest of the six surfers and water photogs who had crossed the enclosure net just after dawn Monday morning to paddle up to a small pod of pilot whales and their calves awaiting slaughter.

While the “trespassing” charge was not likely to stick as the small rock-lined killing cove was officially a public park, a more serious indictment of “conspiracy to disrupt trade” could. In any case, Dave and the others were in no mood to dally once the sleeping dragon of Japanese law enforcement had been stirred to action.

By midnight Dave, his wife Hannah, Justin and myself had quietly slipped out from the hotel basement and hailed taxis to another hotel.

We left our boards behind.

To be continued…