Yoko Ono celebrates book launch at childhood home
TOKYO (The Japan News/ANN) - Musician and artist Yoko Ono attends the launch of a book featuring the Philippine ambassador’s official residence in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, a historic building where Ono herself lived for a while during her childhood.
Musician and artist Yoko Ono was among those recently celebrating the launch of a book featuring the Philippine ambassador’s official residence in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, a historic building where Ono herself lived for a while during her childhood.
“History and Heritage of the Kudan: The Official Residence of the Philippine Ambassador to Japan” was written by historian Ambeth Ocampo with the assistance of the embassy and sponsors. It describes the property that used to be owned by the Yasuda family, which led the prewar Yasuda zaibatsu business conglomerate. The elegant Iberian-style house was built in the early 1930s by Ono’s uncle Iwajiro Yasuda.
In 1944, the residence was sold to the Philippine government and it has served for decades since as the home of Philippine envoys to Japan. It was declared a national historic landmark by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines in 2013. Filipinos call the house “Kudan” because it is located near Kudanshita subway station.
“The idea of selling this property was raised a number of times in the past. But we believe that selling and tearing down this building would be a great tragedy,” Philippine Ambassador Manuel Lopez said Tuesday at a cocktail reception held in the residence, which was decorated with a Christmas tree and ornaments.
The book contains valuable photos, including some from Ono’s childhood, but will not be for general sale. It was published as part of events to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries in 2016.
“It is our hope that this book would add to the efforts by all who came here before us to preserve this precious property,” Lopez said.
Ono herself was a special guest of the day. “I remember when I was a little girl. My uncle was living here,” she said in English. “Such a great memory ... Musicians were playing music up there in the terrace.”
Ono lived in the house for some time in her childhood before it became the Philippine government’s property. The about 80-year-old residence barely survived the war, when many other houses were destroyed by fire and bombings. With renovations to preserve its legacy, the mansion is still actively used.
Ono emphasised that the residence “is actually a sign of ... the wish and will of people who live in peace.”
Following Ono’s speech, a song was dedicated to her by the FilCom Chorale: her late husband John Lennon’s “Imagine.” The Japanese guests, ambassadors and their spouses, business leaders and Ono — of course — sang along.