Japan may lose Lennon museum

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The Independent Online

The only official John Lennon museum in the world is in danger of closing its doors permanently late next year as visitor numbers decline.

The museum was opened - with the consent and active participation of the late musician's Japanese wife, Yoko Ono - on October 9, 2000, the 60th anniversary of Lennon's birth in Liverpool.

Part of the Saitama Super Arena sporting and music complex north of Tokyo, the John Lennon Museum is operated by a unit of the construction firm Taisei Corp. and with the support of the Saitama Prefectural Government, but there are suggestions that the 10-year contract for the exhibition may not be renewed when it expires in October 2010.

Neither the museum nor Taisei are commenting on the reports in the Japanese media.

The museum is presently staging an event titled "Love & Peace," which will run until January 31, and is designed to be an echo of the December 1969 "Bed-In For Peace" in Amsterdam and the composing two years later of "Happy Xmas (War is Over)."

The song has become a staple of the festive season and the handwritten lyrics will also be on display in the museum. Other items on display include the former Beatles' guitars, costumes, his signature round glasses and photos of Lennon and Ono with their son, Sean.

In total, the museum (/www.taisei.co.jp/museum/index_e.html) displays more than 130 items of John Lennon memorabilia from Ono's personal collection. The two first met at a London art gallery and were married in Gibraltar in 1969 and Lennon left The Beatles in September of the same year. Lennon spent some time in Japan before moving to New York to continue writing and performing.

He was shot dead at the entrance to the Dakota apartment building, where the couple lived, on December 8, 1980.

Museum access: Saitama Super Arena, 8 Shintoshin, Chuo-ku, Saitama City, Saitama 330-9109, Japan. Tel. +81 48 601 0009.

Opening hours: 11 am to 6 pm

Open days: Closed every Tuesday, year-end and New Year holidays.

Admission: Adults Y1,500 (€11.50), high school and college students Y1,000 (€7.70) and elementary and junior high school students Y500 (€3.85).