City plans park for estate of Yoko Ono grandfather


Alarmed by an investment proposal by a developer, the city of Yanagawa, Fukuoka Prefecture, has decided to purchase and turn into a public park an estate of Eijiro Ono, grandfather of artist Yoko Ono and former president of the Industrial Bank of Japan, the predecessor of Mizuho Bank.

The city is also considering building a memorial hall on the premises to commemorate contributions to world peace by Yoko Ono and John Lennon, her late husband, officials said.

According to the city, Eijiro Ono (1864-1927) grew up and lived in the house until he left to attend Doshisha English School, the present-day Doshisha University, in Kyoto Prefecture.

The premises are located along the city’s network of canals known for “kawakudari” (“boating down the river”) sightseeing tours. The waterways have a total length of 470 km and form a unique landscape.

While the original residence was demolished 40 years ago, a developer in the Kanto region proposed a plan in May to purchase the 1,400-sq.-meter site and build a nursing home for the elderly on it.

Worried that the construction of such a facility may damage the landscape, the city set aside ¥30 million in a supplementary budget that was passed by the municipal assembly in September. The city will purchase the land from a relative of Yoko Ono by March.

Meanwhile, local residents and citizens’ groups have offered their own ideas for the site.

Tatsuo Hara, 71, who heads a local community promotion group, suggested that the city build a replica of Lennon’s childhood home in Liverpool, England, and turn it into a museum.

Osamu Kudo, 65, who heads a kawakudari tour company that Yoko Ono used when she visited her grandfather’s estate 25 years ago, said the site could be transformed into a local memorial museum for world peace.

Yanagawa Mayor Kenji Kaneko said, “We have been thinking about creating a museum that will tell the story of Yoko Ono and her husband, present their records and lifetime achievements, as well as the history of the Ono family.”

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