Candles, melodies as Japanese fans mark Lennon anniversary

SAITAMA, Japan (AFP) - Japanese fans have marked the anniversary of John Lennon's murder with candles and floral tributes at a museum built with the support of the slain Beatle's Japanese widow Yoko Ono.

As his songs flowed from speakers, visitors placed single white flowers in tribute to the musician at the museum in the Tokyo suburb of Saitama.

Bouquets of red roses and candles were set on a black-and-white mosaic with the single word "Imagine" at the center, modeled after a similar display in New York's Central Park and the title of Lennon's most famous song.

"I've come here every year since this museum was opened on this special day to commemorate John Lennon," said Takamatsu Yamauchi, 44.

"And every time, I feel a fresh new feeling," he said, as he sat with his wife listening to Lennon's songs.

Lennon was shot dead on December 8, 1980 outside his New York City apartment building. The assassin, deranged fan Mark David Chapman, remains in prison.

More than a quarter of a century later, Japan remains a major market for Beatles and Lennon songs and memorabilia.

The John Lennon Museum was opened to the public on October 9, 2000 -- which would have been the former Beatle's 60th birthday -- with the approval of Yoko Ono.

"I've loved his melodies since I was in the grade school, even if I didn't understand the words," said Akimi Suzuki, 25, who took time off work to visit the memorial.

"I think that his messages of peace and love still come down to the younger generation. And I hope to have a love story like Lennon and Yoko had," she added with a smile.

Ahead of the latest anniversary, Ono took out a full-page advertisement in The New York Times to seek forgiveness on behalf of those who lost loved ones to violence.

Copyright 2006 Agence France Presse.
That's cool that the Japanese remember John Lennon although in Japan nothing will ever come close to what people do over in Japan each year for Hideto Matsumoto on his birthday and the date of his death.

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