27th June, 2016

Japan 50: Anniversary of The Beatles' invasion

Julia Baird, John Lennon’s sister, is this week leading a delegation of key partners from Liverpool’s culture and tourism sector as they embark on a trip to Tokyo in a bid to help strengthen the city’s links with Asia.

Julia and delegates from The Beatles Story, The Cavern and Marketing Liverpool flew out on a Turkish Airlines flight from Manchester Airport to Tokyo. Once they arrive, the group will take part in a week-long campaign to promote Liverpool to Japanese tourists.

The trip coincides with the 50th anniversary since The Beatles’ famous tour of Japan.

 

Travelling on Japan Airlines, The Beatles arrived at Haneda Airport, Tokyo, Japan, at 3.40am on 30th June 1966 to perform five shows at the Nippon Budokan Hall. Judging by fan reactions it's fair to say that by the time The Beatles landed, Beatlemania had truly hit Japan and 50 years on it shows no signs of slowing down.

The visit was not without controversy and protest since Budokan was considered a national shrine to Japan's war casualties and many found the idea of a rock group performing as sacrilege. The band from Liverpool would make history by being the first western rock group to perform there.

Upon landing, The Beatles were met and escorted to the Tokyo Hilton hotel where they would spend the following three nights in the Presidential Suite almost under ‘house arrest’ – leaving only to perform their five shows. They held a press conference from the Hilton hotel and security was on constant high alert.

 

The first performance took place on 30th June 1966 to an audience of 10,000. The following day The Beatles performed two shows, which were both filmed by Nippon Television. The two shows were edited together and broadcast on NTV Channel 4 on 1st July from 9pm.

During their three nights’ stay at the Tokyo Hilton, The Beatles produced a painting, which became known as ‘Images of A Woman’. Each of the four band members painted their interpretation and collectively they signed the artwork. It is the only known art collaboration by all four Beatles. Consequently it last sold at auction in 2012 for $155,250.

 

The Beatles left Tokyo on 3rd July 1966. Nobody at the time could have predicted the lasting effect these four lads from Liverpool would have on Japan and in turn the effect Japanese culture would have on The Beatles as well. Not only did John Lennon marry a Japanese woman and spend a lot of time in Japan with his family during the 1970s, but The Beatles careers are full of references to Japanese culture.

Japan was home to an official John Lennon museum which exhibited artefacts from Yoko Ono’s personal collection until its close in 2010. It was also home to a recreation of the world-famous Cavern Club and welcomed dozens of Beatle tribute bands.

 

The Japanese love for the Beatles seems never-ending and this is proven time and time again by the sheer number of fans who make the pilgrimage every year from Japan to Liverpool. In the words of John Lennon, from his song “You Are Here” featured on Mind Games, “From Liverpool to Tokyo, what a way to go”.

Julia said: “John often spoke fondly about his time in Japan, it always had a special place in heart. He had a great affinity with the people and places, it almost became a second home. Nowhere is that more evident than in his music.”

Chris Brown, director at Marketing Liverpool, commented: “This is an incredible platform to promote Liverpool as a tourist destination to the Japanese market and strengthen our already existing links with Asia. It is part of a series of events that the city is doing both internationally and domestically but we could not have undertaken this opportunity without the support of Visit Britain, the GREAT campaign, Turkish Airlines and our Beatles industry partners.”

 

Martin King, director at the Beatles Story, said: “The Beatles embraced Asian culture to its full capacity. Their visit to Tokyo almost half a century ago had a lasting impact, both on Japan and the boys alike.

“The Beatles’ later years as well as solo careers would go on to be influenced by Japanese heritage and culture. John Lennon himself went on to marry Yoko Ono with Tokyo becoming their spiritual home.

“It is fantastic to get this opportunity, 50 years on, to bring a slice of Liverpool to a place where Beatlemania has never really ended.”

 

Also, Japanese tribute act ‘One After 909’ will perform at Liverpool’s world famous Cavern Club on Thursday 30th June and Friday 1st July.

During their visit to Liverpool, the Japanese ‘Fab Four’ visited The Beatles Story before heading off for an official welcome from the city’s Lord Mayor. The band, who are being hosted by the Hard Days Night Hotel, will perform at Liverpool’s historic UNESCO waterfront before heading to the Cavern Club for their much anticipated performance.

 

Selim Ecirli, Turkish Airlines General Manager for Manchester, said: "Turkish Airlines is delighted to support this initiative. As the carrier that flies to more countries than any other, we are keen to attract more visitors to the region.

"With daily flights to Tokyo and Osaka with good connections from Manchester, Turkish Airlines can strongly support enhancing visitor numbers to north west England."

 

Tomoko Hisaki from Visit Britain in Tokyo added: “This significant anniversary of The Beatles visiting Japan provides a great opportunity to promote Liverpool as a tourist destination.

“Being able to trace the band’s journey from four young lads to becoming the most influential band in the world will have real appeal to the Japanese market.”

 

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