Global Voices

Beatles Memorial Day Marks the Anniversary of the Iconic Band’s First Visit to Japan

June 29 is observed by some as Beatles Memorial Day in Japan. The date marks the anniversary of the Beatles’ first appearance in Japan in 1966 when they touched down at Haneda Airport in the middle of Japan's monsoon rainy season and played the next day at the Budokan martial arts center in central Tokyo, the first of five concerts they would play on that tour.

This year on June 29 the hashtag ビートルズ記念日 (Beatles Memorial Day) trended on Japanese Twitter, as many fans shared their memories and appreciation of the Beatles.

The 1966 visit by the Beatles to Japan is regarded as a turning point in Japanese postwar culture. Hoshika Rumiko, the first Japanese journalist to carry out an exclusive interview with the Beatles in London in 1964, remarked in 2016 on the 50th anniversary of the first visit:

The Beatles were only in the country for a little under five days, but that short visit was enough to change public opinion totally. People soon realized that they had no choice but to embrace the Beatles.

Many of the giants of Japanese industry today came of age when the Beatles first came to Japan in 1966. As reported by Nikkei Asian Review, according to Ryuichi Isaka, president of retail giant Seven & i Holdings, the Beatles’ music is “more of a universal language than English.”

Good morning! ♬ It's Beatles Memorial Day in Japan. 🎶🎸 It's been 51 years since they came to Tokyo.

Today, Beatles songs are still sung in karaoke bars in Japan as well as in English class in Japanese middle schools. Beatles kitsch still survives as well.

It's Beatles Memorial Day today. We love the Beatles at our house. I have no idea if this Winnie the Pooh doll is supposed to be John Lennon or not.

And, like any fans, Japanese people make pilgrimages to special spots identified with the band.

🇬🇧 If you love the Beatles, there are 5 spots you have to visit 🎸🎤

1) Abbey Road
2) Mathew Street (in Liverpool)
3) Strawberry Fields
4) Penny Lane
5) (From link) The Beatles Story, Liverpool

The pilgrimages can also be whimsical in nature, too.

Good morning, everyone. Today is Beatles Memorial Day. On this day in 1966 the Beatles first came to Japan. The characters from the movie K-On! made a pilgrimage to London, and walked on Abbey Road. We did the same thing last year.

And, as always, some businesses will try to capitalize on fandom to market themselves, such as this Tokyo ramen shop.

Good morning, it's Mutahiro Koya Ramen! 🐟 Today is Beatles Memorial Day. And what kind of day might that be? Today I'll be listening to “Yesterday” while eating ramen at Mutaro Koya. That's the kind of day it's going to be. So, we hope you'll join us!

Follow the hashtag at ビートルズ記念日 for more on Beatles Memorial Day.

Originally published in Global Voices.

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