Monday, September 19, saw about 60,000 people rally against nuclear power in Japan. Nobel laureate Oe Kenzaburo helped organize the event, which included a march through Omotesando and Harajuku-- I'm guessing along Omotesando-dori-- to Yoyogi Park.
It must have been quite a sight. Once, when I was vacationing in Tokyo, I found myself involved in a peace march in Shibuya. I'm not sure how many were in the march-- possibly 1000 people or so. They held signs in English promoting world peace, but they didn't exude radicalism or hippie-ism. Nothing fringe-y, although I think peace should be a mainstream issue. These were just ordinary people of all ages, many of them appearing to be clean-cut college students, the same kinds of kids I taught conversational English in Hamamatsu. Maybe because I was the only American-looking person around, they singled me out for a lot of smiles and peace signs, which I happily flashed back at them, letting them know, "Hey, I'm for peace, too."
Having participated in a "No Blood for Oil" march during the Second Persian Gulf War way back in 1990, I know what it's like to peacefully protest for something in which you strongly believe. Our protest didn't share the fun vibe the Shibuya peace march. There are probably many reasons for this which I just don't feel like getting into; not only that, I'm hardly an expert on either American or Japanese culture. But I do love peaceful protests. Especially friendly peaceful protests. Give me a smile and a hug and I'm much more likely to listen to what you have to say. We may not reach an agreement, but we can talk it over and maybe make friends with each other. Tote a gun and a frown, throw around threats, and we've got nothing to discuss.