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Work / Publication

100 hours with The Beatles: Shimpei Asai’s photographs from 1966

Hello, Goodbye: The Beatles in Tokyo, 1966 is a rare opportunity to witness one of the world’s most famous bands through the eyes of a fan, photographer Shimpei Asai. Published by Genesis Publications, the limited edition publication is the first time these photographs have been seen outside of Japan, with just 1,966 copies on offer.

The experience the photographer had is one of a kind. Shimpei had 100 hours to photograph the band and was given access most photographers could only dream for. As a result the rarities within the book are remarkable, the minute details that a true Beatles fan would love to see. The entirety of their stay is documented; what they ate for breakfast in their Hilton suite to the fan mail they received, Paul Mccartney in a kimono, or Ringo sleepy-eyed and playing instruments in his room. Shimpei’s photographs are a reflective treat.

One of the true joys of the publication is Shimpei’s introduction to the book. 50 years later you can still hear his trepidation towards photographing the worlds biggest band: “I thought of several approaches I could take, and finally settled on the photo essay method. I would point my camera at The Beatles, as well as the season and climate, the moisture and temperature of Tokyo; the colour of the air and sky, as well as scenes of them performing, the things they saw and touched.” As a fan of the band Shimpei took every opportunity to photograph them he could: “The Beatles landed at dawn, the day the storm left Tokyo. I ran into the landing field carrying a camera with a telephoto lens.”

“Half a century has now passed since that time,” Shimpei writes. “It is a miracle, like magic for me to be able to pass on to you the rolls of film that contain my spectacular memory. It is like hearing Yesterday at a grocery store by accident, and stopping to listen.”

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Shimpei Asai: Hello, Goodbye: The Beatles in Tokyo 1966

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Shimpei Asai: Hello, Goodbye: The Beatles in Tokyo 1966

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Shimpei Asai: Hello, Goodbye: The Beatles in Tokyo 1966

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Shimpei Asai: Hello, Goodbye: The Beatles in Tokyo 1966

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Shimpei Asai: Hello, Goodbye: The Beatles in Tokyo 1966