The mood back at the Hearton Hotel is celebratory. No dolphins had died, no one had gotten arrested or assaulted, and surely the whalers in Taiji would take notice of the international attention, the respectful goodwill. The sake flows. Whenever we run low, we buy more from the vending machine in the hall.
A large group of us wades up an alley packed with revelers, noodle shops, and girlie bars. We find a karaoke joint. In a crowded private singing room the beer laps over the table. So does Hayden, who steps between the glasses and brings down the house with her version of "Billie Jean." For being one of the biggest stars on TV and only 18, she seems pretty self-possessed and down-to-earth. It's also clear she loves the limelight. She and Hannah Mermaid outdo each other with hip-grinding dances. And Karina, the surfer, is so irrepressible she drags in the Japanese kids who staff the place, makes them sing, and whips them into such a frenzy they have to be evicted.
Saving the world is hard work.
October 28, 17:00 hours
Rastovich calls a small and urgent meeting in one of the hotel's tiny rooms. O'Barry phoned him from Taiji earlier in the day to report that 30 pilot whales had been driven into the cove for slaughter the next morning. It feels like a cynical rebuke, a big, flying Japanese fuck-off, and Rastovich is furious. He wants to go back. Right at dawn, during the killing. He wants to take six of the highest-profile people. He wants to cross the nets, right under the spears of the whalers. He wants to paddle into bloody water, blow the lid off the whole thing.
The last two people who tried this were Sea Shepherd activists, in 2002. One cut a net before they were both violently grabbed out of the water, one by the throat. They were thrown in jail for 28 days, heavily fined, and deported.
Aussie actress Isabel signs on to Rastovich's plan without hesitation. Hayden wants to go, but her mother/manager isn't so sure. Any mother would balk. The two talk heatedly in the hall. Then Hayden comes back into the room, beaming. She flashes a thumbs-up. Rastovich and his wife Hannah would go. Karina, too. They ask me to go, as the journalist. I could wear a small video cam on my head and record the whole deal. I agree.