A brief introduction– by Leina
Most westerners, when thinking of cetaceans in Japan, make an immediate association with the annual slaughter in Taiji or commercial whale hunting.
I am a native japanese born in Tokyo but raised in France and Hawaii – and to this day, I remain amazed at how little Japanese people know about this situation. The reality is so much more nuanced than an outsider might think. There are many wonderful, soulful people in Japan who have deep love and reverence for the dolphins and yet are blissfully unaware of what happens every year to a part of the cetacean population inhabiting their waters.
Love Japan Dolphins started as a small social network community created on FB years ago, out of my desire to do my part to support the Japanese dolphins and whales. I wanted to ignite that same spark within the Japanese people with the conviction that, rather than from outside pressure, the desire to create change must come from within.
There was hesitation as to the form and the how as I pondered the best way to rally the hearts of a people who tend to be shy of voicing their convictions out loud, in fear of being judged or ostracized by the collective.
After speaking with people in Japan involved in environmental activism and the media world, it became clear that the language of emotions would be much more effective to touch the Japanese public than speeches with hard facts about the ecological reality of our planet.
In November 2019, during a month long visit in Japan, my vision was revived through the enchantment of music. The focus of the trip was to inaugurate the first screenings of our documentary film The Journey in. For this occasion, we collaborated with Japanese musicians.
And so as I listened to one of the pieces -Spirit Island- performed by the group Yurai, an extraordinary thing happened.
Spirit Island- Activism in the spirit of Shukufuku
Spirit Island was written by the lead singer Ema as a tribute to the humpback whale mothers that come to give birth and nurse their young in the waters of an island in Okinawa. As Ema puts it, it was composed in the spirit of shukufuku, a celebration of life.
As Ema sang and danced her song on stage, I was suddenly transported to the town of Taiji, home to the infamous annual dolphin hunt.
And in my minds eye, here was Yurai, by the cove, performing their vibrant song.
The image had struck like a lightning bolt and stayed imprinted in my mind for days after the event.
Spirit Island sings of reverence, of communion with the sentient earth and celebration. It is a reaffirmation of life in a place that reeks of death and wasted lives.
And I wondered: Could we somehow bring this song to Taiji? Have it be a vehicle to direct greater attention to what’s occurring there?
More than anything, it is about casting light and hope in a place entrenched in unconsciousness.
Activism can be sacred and celebratory. In this day and age, it is synonymous of resilience - a natural expression of the self in service to the regeneration of Earth’s living systems.
There is this wonderful saying by Frederick Buechner : The place Life calls you to is the place where your deepest joy and the world’s deep hunger meet.
It’s with these words in mind that we planted the seed of this new project.
“As long as it is in the spirit of celebration”, Ema said. By that, she meant: “As long as we stay true to our music and ourselves.”
We are looking for sponsors to launch this movement and spread the love and awareness in wider and wider circles in Japan.