It is April 1, 2012 and at 0715h we get in the mini-mini van to drive to a location 30 minutes away. A chartered bus waits for us there. What in Manitoba would be a one hour ride by bus takes almost three hours here.
We are off to Hitachi-naka-shi which is 3km from the Pacific Ocean where a 34 year old nuclear power plant exists in the same prefecture, Ibaraki-ken, where we are currently living. The gathering is to primarily request the closure of this nuclear plant to prevent the possibility of a meltdown such as happened in Fukushima a year ago on 3-11.
When we got there, there was a large expanse of concrete awaiting us with a stage at the apex and food stands and people with petitions to be signed. We made the rounds, bought some vegetables and signed petitions.
The entertainment in the form of music began shortly. People had spread out the ever present blue tarps on the concrete and we sat down. There was current music, folk songs and a trumpeter even played the tune "Amazing Grace" as a request for all of Japan affected by the events of the past year.
Then the speeches began. Besides the politicians there was a son whose father was forced away from the Fukushima nuclear affected area after having farmed there for 30 years.
A mother with a baby on her back was concerned about the effects of radiation on children.
A "salary man" who left Tokyo to farm in our prefecture of Ibaraki which is south of Fukushima, told us that being an organic farmer and selling direct instead of through marketing agencies such as JA saw his sales drop to zero immediately following 3-11.
Many banners and placards surrounded us protesting ageing nuclear plants, nuclear weapons, taxes being raised (when Fukushima needs government support) and other assorted issues.
There were also proponents of wind farms, geothermal energy (Japan is an obvious for this, but other than hot spring resorts, I see little evidence of) and of course solar energy of which quite a few water heating systems and solar electrical panels are seen on roof tops.
And for most of us present it was a chance to get away and enjoy a huge well behaved party.
The photograph shows just a few of what was being reported as a crowd of 3000 people with maybe two policemen present at the entrance to the grounds.