Sunday, October 04, 2009

The John Lennon Museum

Before I left for Japan, our company president asked me if there was anything in particular I wanted to see while I was there. My answer, of course, was the John Lennon Museum. I was told it was too far away; however, my gracious hosts found a way to make it happen.

We left for the train station early this morning and took a bullet train (I don't remember how to spell the Japanese term) to Tokyo. After that, we transferred to two other trains before arriving at our destination. The museum is next to an arena and a public place where a flea market was being held. There was also a food court with a play area for little kids and a stage where a band was being filmed.

After lunch, we went to the museum, which occupies two floors of a building. It was very quiet when we arrived. The museum tour starts with a short film summing up John's life. (We were the only people in the theater for this.) Afterwards, you trace John's life, which is broken up into nine eras. Many artifacts of his are on display. There are several guitars, including his very first one (though it might have been a replica); a guitar with a concert setlist still taped to the side, and a custom one Yoko commissioned for him with a dragon on the guitar body. There were also school reports; magazines he made as a child; his Sargent Pepper outfit (complete with hat, boots, and scarf); personal items from the Dakota; gold records; handwritten lyrics; and many more things. Naturally Yoko's art work was also included; there were recreations of the art pieces from the art show where she and John met. I liked seeing her ceiling piece (with the word "Yes" on the ceiling.) There is also a white phone that she calls from time to time, but it didn't ring when I was in the area.

Being the diehard fan that I am, I went into this exhibit already knowing much about John's life. In fact, there were some areas that I felt were glossed over. The gate from Strawberry Field is shown but not explained. I didn't see any mention of Stu Stutcliffe, John's friend from art school. Cynthia and Julian are mentioned briefly in the Beatles era, but that's about it. I suppose it's understandable that a Yoko-inspired exhibit would focus on the part of John's life when they were together, but I feel that other important people in John's life deserve to be included too. Anyway, I did learn some new details. For instance, John's capital I's have such big loops they look like 9's. Since nine was an important number for John, that may not be coincidence. I saw several photos of John wearing a cross around his neck (that cross plays an important role in Across Two Universes). I also enjoyed seeing some new photos of John, especially from the househusband period. And of course it was great just soaking in all of his music. When it's been a while since you've heard Beatles music, hearing it again is like absorbing a nutrient you didn't realize you needed.

Other exhibits about John have made a point about reminding people how he died violently, displaying the brown bag with the clothes he was wearing when he was shot. This museum took a different approach, simply displaying the date of John's death in white letters on a white wall. Beyond that point is a "Forever" room, where you can sit on clear chairs and look at some inspiring lyrics from his songs. (I noticed all the lyrics were taken from his solo work.)

After we finished going through the exhibit, naturally I had to buy some souvenirs. I was amused by the John Lennon action figure but decided it was too big to buy. I would have liked to buy a copy of Real Love: The Drawings for Sean, but it wasn't for sale. Maybe I can find it on Amazon. I wound up with a bunch of photo postcards, a keychain, a pen, and a book of John's drawings about his visits to Japan. I had my picture taken with early John; Oscar joined me for that one. (I forgot to bring him with me yesterday, but at least there's now an Asian sighting of him.) We also spent some time in the lounge, where you can read books, listen to music, and watch DVDs.

When we returned to Tokyo, we walked around a famous shopping area for a bit. It was extremely crowded, and the shops catered to younger and hipper people. Still, it was a great place to people watch. We then returned to Nagoya and had dinner at yet another restaurant where you cook your own food. This time, we made things called something like "okonomakyi" and "makjyi." (Those words are probably misspelled.) Cabbage, meat, and vegetables are combined with dough and cooked on a griddle. The closest analogy to Western food is like a potato pancake.

That's it for today. It's close to midnight, and I'm tired from all the stairs at the train stations. But I'm very happy I was able to fulfill one of my dreams today. Imagine that.

1 comment:

Noriyo Nishida said...

I've just found your blog, and just want to let you know that I could have a good time with you yesterday. Reading this blog, I was able to know how much you like Beatles and you already knew almost of all explanations about Jhon yesterday!
Anyways, I hope that you will enjoy the rest of time in Japan!!

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