Tokyo • Friday, July 1, 1966

ConcertBy The Beatles • Part of the 1966 Japan and Philippines Tour2pm show
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Nippon Budokan

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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.

[…] On Friday morning, honourable prisoners Lennon and McCartney succeeded in a carefully planned secret breakout mission. John went with road manager Neil Aspinall to an ivory shop, where John bought a 100-year-old antique snuff box for €50.

John said: “They had dozens of these great things called Happy Gods but I just bought a small one and a big fat Buddah thing. I saw one ivory ornament and asked how much. The man replied: ‘I don’t know. Nobody ever asked to buy it before’.”

Paul McCartney and road manager Malcolm Evans got to the Imperial Palace then suddenly discovered an elaborate police escort which would attract attention, so returned to the hotel without shopping. […]

From Disc And Music Echo – July 9, 1966
From Disc And Music Echo – July 9, 1966

From The Beatles Bible:

The Beatles performed two shows at the Nippon Budokan Hall in Tokyo, Japan on this day.

The shows were each seen by 1,000 fans. As with the previous day’s concert, the first performance from this day was filmed by Nippon Television. Footage from both was broadcast in the programme The Beatles Recital, From Nippon Budokan, Tokyo, on NTV Channel 4 on this evening from 9pm. […]

In the footage, The Beatles’ 1 July performance can be distinguished by their white suits; in the first concert they wore black. […]

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, March 28, 2015

The Beatles on stage at Tokyo?s Budokan Hall, from left to right Paul McCartney, George Harrison and John Lennon, Japan, July 1st 1966 - Credits: Robert Whitaker
The Beatles on stage at Tokyo?s Budokan Hall, from left to right Paul McCartney, George Harrison and John Lennon, Japan, July 1st 1966 – Credits: Robert Whitaker
From Paul McCartney and George Harrison on stage at Tokyo?s Budokan Hall,… Photo d’actualité – Getty Images – Paul McCartney and George Harrison on stage at Tokyo’s Budokan Hall, during The Beatles Asian tour, 1st July 1966. (Photo by Robert Whitaker/Getty Images)

Last updated on December 12, 2022

Nippon Budokan

This was the 2nd concert played at Nippon Budokan.

A total of 8 concerts have been played there • 1966Jun 30thJul 1stJul 1stJul 2ndJul 2nd2015Apr 28th2017Apr 24thApr 25th

Going further

If we like to think, in all modesty, that the Paul McCartney Project is the best online ressource for everything Paul McCartney, The Beatles Bible is for sure the definitive online site focused on the Beatles. There are obviously some overlap in terms of content between the two sites, but also some major differences in terms of approach.

Read more on The Beatles Bible


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David J Harvey 2 months ago

These photos of Paul with Mal Evans are an interesting revelation, as it busts the myth that they were not permitted to leave their hotel under any circumstances during their tours for security reasons.

I personally think that the narrative of them being exclusively confined to hotels while on tour has been either exaggerated or fabricated, since on the 1965 tour of the USA, they were able to spend time with Elvis at his Bel Air mansion and Paul and George attended a Byrds recording session.

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