In 1966 the Beatles travelled to Japan to perform some live shows. They arrived in Tokyo on June 29th, and their concerts were to be performed at the Budokan Hall. The Budokan Hall was used for sumo wrestling, which of course was very popular in Japan, and there were protests outside the stadium by people who felt the Beatles should not be allowed into the home of sumo wrestling. The Nippon Budokan was also considered a national shrine to Japan's war dead, and many saw it as sacrilegious that a rock 'n' roll group were allowed to perform there.
" Everywhere we were going, there was a demonstration about one thing or another. In America the race riots were going on when Beatlemania had come to town. In Japan there were student riots, plus people were demonstrating because the Budokan, where we were playing, was supposed to be a special spiritual hall reserved for martial arts. So in the Budokan only violence and spirituality were approved of, not pop music.
We went on to Tokyo. When we came off the plane, we were put in little 1940s-type cars along with policeman dressed in metal helmets, like Second World War American soldiers' helmets. We were driven in convoy into town and taken to the Tokyo Hilton where we were put in our upstairs suite - and that was it. We were only allowed out of the room when it was time for the concert. We just wanted to go shopping. "
Because of some death threats that the Beatles had received before the show they were advised to stay in their VIP suite at the Tokyo Hilton. To keep busy and out of sheer boredom whilst locked up in their hotel room, the Beatles were given some paper and paints and over the course of two nights, they collaborated on this painting. The paper they were given was approx. 30" x 40" (paper and paints were provided by the Japanese promoter, Tats Nagashima, who suggested that the completed painting be auctioned for charity) and was placed on a table with a lamp in the center.
Working with the light of the lamp, each member of the Beatles decorated their own corner of the paper with oil paint and watercolor. Paul's corner has a symmetrical, psychedelic feel, John's has a dark center surrounded by thick oils, George's part is large and colorful, and Ringo's has a cartoon like image. When the lamp was removed from the table, it left a white circle in the middle of the painting, which was signed by all four of the Beatles. Once complete, the painting titled 'Images of a Woman' was bought by Mr. Tetsusaburo Shimoyama who was a curator of Shochiku-Kaikan and chairman of the Beatles Fan Club Japan.
" I never saw them calmer, more contented than at this time. They were working on something that let their personalities come out. I think it’s the only work they ever did all together that had nothing to do with music. They were very harmonious and happy, calling their wives and girlfriends, all the time doing this painting."