When the Beatles visited Japan in 1966 at the height of Beatlemania, it was a chaotic scene. They were scheduled to play at Budokan Hall in Tokyo, a venue with special significance to the Japanese as a memorial to their war dead and a place where only martial arts had previously been allowed. The Beatles would be the first rock ‘n roll band to appear there, and the prospect of the devil’s music being played in this sacred place didn’t sit well with a lot of people, causing massive demonstrations to take place in protest of the Beatles appearance. When questioned by a reporter about the demonstrations taking place, John Lennon, perhaps not fully appreciating the cultural significance of Budokan Hall, quipped “better to watch singing than wrestling, anyway.”
As a result of the chaos, the police beefed up security with 35,000 officers to protect the Fab Four, and forced the lads to stay in their suite at the Tokyo Hilton for three days (although John Lennon did manage to sneak out briefly until he was recognized and had to hustle back to the hotel).
So what is the world’s most popular rock band to do when cooped up in a room together for three days? Well first, since they couldn’t go shopping, they invited local merchants to come to their hotel suite and display their wares for them, using their recently acquired wealth to fill the coffers of the lucky merchants. But most remarkably, they embarked on a joint art project, creating a painting called “Images of a Woman” (above) with each Beatle contributing a quarter of the painting. It is the only painting that they did together and it has become a treasured piece of Beatles history, most recently selling at auction for $155,250.
Below: The Beatles perform at Budokan Hall – June 30, 1966