Lennon’s love and peace legacy on display


To commemorate the wedding of John Lennon and Yoko Ono and their peace activities during the late 1960s, the John Lennon Museum in Japan is hosting a special exhibition until July 31 titled “John and Yoko’s Love & Peace Activities 1968-1970.”

A prime focus of the show will be the couple’s acorn-planting project, which symbolized the growing peace movement in the late 1960s amid the horrors of the Vietnam War. The museum contains installations of acorns under glass with giant photos of an acorn-planting ceremony that Lennon and Ono had in England, during which they planted two acorns to symbolize the meeting of East and West.

A museum spokesperson displayed a photograph of a plain-colored box addressed to the president of Chile, one of the 50 boxes containing acorns sent out to world leaders during the peace campaign and “Bed-In” that followed the Lennon/Ono wedding. She explained that even though Lennon would have been 66 this year, about half of the museum visitors are in their teens and 20s.

“We have John Lennon in some textbooks for music classes and English composition,” she said, explaining the profound influence he has had in Japan. “There are even photos of the museum entrance in high-school English books.”

For the April-July exhibition, the hand-written lyrics to the hit song “Revolution,” which contained Lennon’s musings about peace activism, will be on display. Visitors can also view photographs from the couple’s Amsterdam Bed-In and subsequent trip to Vienna. The Christmas 1969 “War Is Over” campaign, which featured billboard ads in major cities worldwide, will also be highlighted.

The museum, which has welcomed some half-million visitors since opening in 2000 on what would have been Lennon’s 60th birthday, houses several rooms focusing on different stages of the musician’s life, spread over two floors.

Via permanent exhibits, visitors can learn about Lennon’s childhood influences, his early days as a member of the Fab Four, his peace activism with Ono, his years in New York, and other periods of his life. Artifacts in the museum’s collection include a Rickenbacker guitar that still has a concert song list that Lennon wrote on a scrap of paper and taped on to the guitar, as well as recording equipment used by The Beatles and their legendary producer George Martin at Abbey Road studios. The outlandish outfit Lennon wore for the Sgt. Pepper’s film is also on display.

Many of the items are on loan from Ono, the museum’s founder, who has had a major influence on the portrayal of Lennon and his legacy. One of the museum zones is dedicated to Ono’s life and her artistic productions during the time that she was with Lennon, while several others concentrate on Lennon’s family life with Ono after the breakup of The Beatles, and the “Imagine” project, which is portrayed as more of a philosophical theory rather than simply a song. Beatles fans will find plenty to interest them, but the museum is geared toward presenting Lennon in a broader context, rather than just as a Beatle.