- Nippon Budokan
More from year 1966
- Line-up Discover The Beatles 1962-1970
The Beatles create an abstract collaborating painting during their stay in Tokyo
June 30 - July 2, 1966
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On this day, The Beatles performed two shows at the Nippon Budokan Hall in Tokyo, the first one at 2 pm, the second one at 6:30 pm. Those were the second and third of five concerts they played at this venue during their 1966 Japan tour.
They had the seating exactly arranged in all the cars. Amazing efficiency, that we’d never seen the like of in Britain. When we went to the gig they had the fans organised with police patrols on each corner, so there weren’t any fans haphazardly waving along the streets. They had been gathered up and herded into a place where they were allowed to wave, so we’d go along the street and there’d be a little ‘eeeeek!’ and then we’d go a few more hundred yards and there’d be another ‘eeeeek!’
At the Budokan we were shown the old Samurai warriors’ costumes, which we marvelled at dutifully in a touristy kind of way: ‘Very good! Very old!’
We were more amazed to see the women leaping up out of the seats for the promoter, because we’d never seen that in the West. The subservience of the women was amazing. They’d say, ‘Oh God, I’m sorry – was I in your seat?’ I remember us getting back to Britain and saying to our wives and girlfriends, ‘I wouldn’t want you to do that, but maybe it’s a direction worth considering?’ Promptly rejected.
We got into our yellow shirts and natty bottle green suits. The thing about suits was that they always made us feel part of a team. When we arrived we were in our civvies, but once we put those on we were The Beatles! – the four-headed monster. It was good for me that we all wore the same, in that I really felt part of a unit.
Peeping from behind the stage to watch the place fill up, we saw police walk in from either side and fill the whole of the front row, upstairs and downstairs. After them, the crowd was allowed to come in. They were very well behaved compared to what we’d seen of Western crowds, but they seemed to enjoy it.
There was a funny local group on stage before us. This was in the days when the Japanese didn’t really know how to do rock’n’roll, although they’ve now got the hang of it pretty well. They sang a song that went, ‘Hello Beatles! Welcome Beatles!’ – something pretty naff in rock’n’roll terms, but it was very nice of them to do it. Our show went down quite well.Paul McCartney – From “The Beatles Anthology” book, 2000
Paul McCartney played the Budokan again in 2015 as part of his “Out There” tour and in 2017 as part of his “One On One” tour.
What was the most memorable thing about playing the Budokan concert [with The Beatles] and why did you decide to return to the venue [in 2015]?
The most memorable thing about the concert was the fans, who were sensational. But what struck us as being just as memorable were the security arrangements that were put in place. The whole front row of the balcony was police, and we saw them all walking in. And as we were going to the show, all the fans were corralled on each street corner and guarded by police. So as we went by they went, ‘Eeeeeeehh!!’ And then there’s nothing for the next block or two. And then ‘Eeeeeeehhh!!’ It was zany because we’d come from England and the US where it had been mayhem. So when I think of the Budokan show I think of the fans first, and then security second.
Why go back and play there again? Just because it was such a special venue to play and I have a particularly special feeling about it. So when someone said there was a possibility of playing there again I jumped at the chance for old times’ sake.”Paul McCartney – From paulmccartney.com, March 28, 2015
Last updated on December 3, 2022
Setlist for the concert
Written by Chuck Berry
Written by George Harrison
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