In 1960, the fortunes of Japan's experimental and classical composers were in far better shape than those of their fellow countrymen in the rock'n'roll business. For while Japanese rock'n'rollers struggled to express themselves in a foreign language that was, to a great extent, still being written by the originators themselves, the artists of experimental Japan were already some way along their own path. Unfettered by the shallow restrictions of show-business entertainment and the need to be seen to be 'up to date', Japan's experimentalists were, by 1960, already harvesting the fruits of a full decade of genuine sonic research, much of it having been realised in their own Jikken-Koubou Experimental Workshop, established back in 1951. During this fertile decade they had successfully subsumed vast amounts of Western influences into their methods, while simultaneously integrating Japanese traditional instruments and tonality into their work with the express intention of creating a uniquely Japanese worldview. More-over, while Japanese experimental composers had avoided too much American influence by setting their sights on the world at large, Japanese patrons of the musical arts had further encouraged such attitudes with the Otaka Prize, awarded for music influenced by Japanese music and Buddhism. The long-term effects of this pro-Japanese attitude can best be summed up by the words of the 1958 Otaka Prize winner Toshiro Mayuzumi, who described his enormous and unfolding 1960 choral composition Mandala Symphony as an attempt 'to express a Japanese Buddhist's view of the omnipotent universe'.
In the early spring of 1960, the cultural importance of Japan's experimentalists had, in the eyes of the public, turned another significant psychological corner when composer and multi-media artist Makoto Moroi was invited to perform at the influential and prestigious new arts centre housed in Sogetsu Kaikan Hall. Situated in the Akasaka district, just west of the Imperial Palace, the square ultra-modern concrete-and-glass kaikan, or culture building, had been designed by architect Kenzo Tange to replace an earlier centre destroyed by Allied bombs in 1945, and had been unveiled in a grand opening ceremony just eighteen months previously. The new directors of the culture hall were a utopian bunch who prided themselves on being facilitators and patrons of the new Japanese arts, believing that it was essential 'for the artists to protect themselves and their creativity from commercialism'.  Enthusiastically received by the public, the Moroi shows were an immediate success both for the artist himself and for the new Sogetsu administration. Viewing Moroi's work in such a salubrious environment not only dignified this previously underground artist, but also allowed him the space to include huge abstract image projections and a special stage setting by the modern theatre designer Hiroshi Manabe. Over Moroi's dramatic mix of orchestral chamber music, spinet, disembodied chorus vocals and electronic soundscapes, a pantomime written and performed by Mamako Yoneyama inspired all who experienced it, and even nowadays comes across to the modern listener as quite as essential and mind-manifesting as the operatic works of J.A. Caesar and Christian Vander's Magma. Indeed, Moroi's work was so well received that NHK broadcast the piece later that year under the title 'Akai Mayu', with a new text written and performed by Koubou Abe. 
On 8th May 1960, less than a month after the death of Eddie Cochran had nailed rock'n'roll's coffin lid shut, the extraordinary improvisational ensemble Group Ongaku (music group) made their public debut at a Tokyo show entitled 'Dance & Music: Their Improvisational Conjunction'. It was an event of incredible power. For the six members of Group Ongaku, all students in the music department of Tokyo's National University of Fine Arts & Music, applied a recklessness and true rock'n'roll fervour to their performance. Opening with kitchen sounds, bottles clinked together, wild spaced-out women's voices, hoovers, insane pianos, shortwave radio, tannoy voices, etc., Group Ongaku performed their 26-minute-long 'Automatism' like the speedfreak stars of a Roman Polanski movie. Indeed, the results were like a cut-up soundtrack for the mental breakdown of one of Polanski's weirdest screen characters. Group Ongaku's second piece, the seven-and-a-half minutes of 'Object', also captured on tape that same day, even featured violent assaults on the microphones themselves. Led by violinist Takehisa Kosugi and cellist Shukou Mizuno, whose experiments had begun two years previously as a duo, the pair had gradually introduced their techniques to other like-minded students, namely guitarist Genichi Tsuge, saxophonist Yasunao Tone, pianist Chieko Shiomi, cellist Mikio Tojima and tape manipulator Yumiko Tanno. The historical significance of Group Ongaku's astonishing debut would not be grasped until decades later, but is, nevertheless, further evidence that 1960 was the turning point in the fortunes of Japanese experimental music. But as 1961 would prove to be even more eventful, we must now look backwards briefly, in order to discover the order of post-war events that led to this momentous rent in the cosmic musical fabric...
Following the 1951 departure of America's MacArthur Administration from Japan, and the so-called 'economic miracle' that followed, the inexorable Westernising of the country was tempered somewhat by a new breed of tough post-war Japanese artists determined to retain the best elements of their culture. Indeed, the musicologist and critic Kuniharu Akiyama had, that same year 1951, founded the famous Jikken-Koubou experimental workshop, with his colleagues Syozo Kitadai, Hiroyoshi Suzuki and the Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu. Uniting these rudimentary electronic experiments with such timeless Japanese traditions as Buddhist gagaku percussion rituals yielded immediate results, bringing forth the kind of unsignposted music with neither peaks nor troughs that still sounds relevant today. Furthermore, the Buddhist traditions of improvisation were so inherent in all Japanese music that none of Japan's post-war composers would, when working closely with Japanese orchestras, be forced to navigate through the storms of hostility that greeted their Western counterparts, when relaying their ideas to the equivalent European and American classical musicians.
There was, nevertheless, an intriguing new kind of European music emerging that neither the Japanese nor the Americans had yet encountered: musique concrète. Its roots lay not in the work of a musician but a French recording engineer and broadcaster at RTF (Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française) named Pierre Schaeffer. In 1942, Schaeffer had persuaded RTF to initiate a new science of 'musical acoustics', which gave him access to record turntables, sound-FX records, record-cutting machines and a direct disc-cutting lathe. Armed with this equipment, Schaeffer had invented a method of locking the grooves of vinyl LPs, creating rudimentary samples. In late 1948, Schaeffer had concluded his first composition 'Etude aux Chemins de Fer' (Study of Locomotives), which comprised six steam locomotives in various actions. On 5th October, RTF broadcast Schaeffer's work 'Etude au Piano 1&2', which employed the piano-playing of his friend, the composer Pierre Boulez. Public reaction was divided but positive enough to justify RTF sending Schaeffer abroad on a symposium tour, with composer Pierre Henry as his assistant.
In 1949, the pair created 'Symphonie pour un Homme Seul' (Symphony for a Man Alone), a piece of musique concrète utilising vocal sounds (breathing, chatter, shouting), pianos, orchestral sounds, footsteps and sound FX, while 1950 saw Shaeffer's first public performances of musique concrète utilising record decks, mixers, vinyl LPs and a large PA system. Standing at his turntables like some primitive DJ, Pierre Schaeffer gave concerts that caused such outrage that they caught the ear of the world's music critics. Schaeffer's next composition 'Orphee', a collaborative piece of so-called 'opera concrete' composed with Pierre Henry, created an even more ferocious press reaction, and the fascinated world was up in arms.  Did this unearthly noise signal the end of real musicians?
The German executives and engineers at WDR Cologne Radio Quickly recognised the significance of Schaeffer's new artform and, on 18th October 1951, agreed to the building of their own electronic studio so as not to be left behind. That same evening WDR broadcast a programme entitled 'The Sound World of Electronic Music', presented by physicist Werner Meyer Eppler, whose wartime experiences had led him to explore the role of chance and random luck in musical composition. For Meyer Eppler, musique concrète and electronic music summed up best what he termed 'aleatory music' ('alea' means dice) which celebrated the seemingly random nature of fate.
With the Americans for once temporarily out of the loop, the Japanese found themselves ahead of the experimental game via composer Toshiro Mayuzumi, who was - seemingly by chance - engaged in post-graduate studies in Paris. Gaining access to Pierre Schaeffer's recording studio Club D'Essaie in early 1952, Mayuzumi found himself in the enviable position of the true pioneer, creating his first musique concrète around the same time as such legendary composers as Stockhausen and Pierre Boulez. Fate's roll of the dice would, over the next few years, add considerable weight to Mayuzumi's place at the heart of Japan's experimental scene.
It's quite impossible nowadays to imagine the shock that musicians would have experienced when first hearing the dissonance of experimental music in those post-war years. Karlheinz Stockhausen's 'totally organised' music of this period, even when played upon traditional instruments, often elicited fits of giggles from his audiences, whilst the premiere of his 'Kreuzspeil', with its a-rhythmical, themeless single notes and a particularly loud bass clarinet, was greeted with such howls of derision that the composer fled the auditorium. In May '52, at Columbia University, Otto Luening and Vladimir Ussachevsky's suggestion of 'enhancing' classical instruments with the aid of reverb, echo and distortion was greeted with equal hostility by students. In comparison, the premiere of American composer John Cage's first musique concrète, 'Imaginary Landscape No. 5', was a killer success. Like Werner Meyer Eppler, Cage delighted in music resulting from chance, this four-minute work having been created from forty different vinyl records selected randomly by the composer.
In 1953, Toshiro Mayuzumi returned to Tokyo, where he formed a 'composer group' Sannin no Kai ('Group of Three') with the opera composer Ikuma Dan and the Russian-influenced Yasushi Akutagawa. In the daring spirit of the day, Akutagawa spent the best part of 1953 planning a secret visit to the Soviet Union in order to meet his heroes Stravinsky, Prokofiev and Shostakovich. Akutagawa went ahead with his plan the following year, entering the USSR illegally, though only managing to meet Shostakovich and Khatchaturian.
Toshiro Mayuzumi remained in Tokyo throughout 1954, however, where he created his first unaided piece of musique concrète, entitled 'X, Y, Z', thereafter experimenting with prepared pianos (affixed with various implements) and also creating Japan's first electronic work 'Shusaku I'. This was proving to be yet another year of musical 'firsts'. As Japanese electronic composer Joji Yuasa fumbled his way to his first musique concrète, so Werner Meyer Eppler's dice-throwing was starting to intrude into and erode Stockhausen's methodology of total organisation. The bizarre result of Stockhausen's about-turn was his 'Song of the Youths', an anarchic electronic piece written for five groups of loudspeakers, whose elements seemed out of control from the moment the piece kicked off.
And so it was in late October '54, on a trip to New York, that Stockhausen finally came to meet composer John Cage, experimental music's Lord of Chance. Having shocked American sensibilities since the early 1940s with his doctored pianos and bizarre percussion compositions, the early '50s had seen Cage's cult grow considerably, as he attracted new young devotees including composers Earle Brown, Christian Wolff, Morton Feldman and pianist David Tudor. Like Stockhausen, however, John Cage had suffered huge post-war depression, at times seeing 'no useful function for music any more',  In the early '50s, Cage had sought answers in the I Ching, thereafter attending three years of New York lectures by Japan's Zen philosopher Daisetsu T. Suzuki as a substitute for psychoanalysis. Cage's protracted encounter with Zen philosophy had gradually relocated his own relationship with time land Western linear time especially), influencing the composer to such an extent that his 1952 composition '4'33"' had been a four-and-a-half-minute piece of performed silence, in which nothing was heard but the audience awaiting the performer's next move. It was, therefore, a far more confident and mentally healthy John Cage whom Stockhausen encountered that October in 1954, so much so that Stockhausen wrote of their time together: 'Cage is the craziest spirit of combination I have ever come across; he is not so much an inventor... as a finder; in addition, he has that indifference towards everything known and experienced that is necessary for an explorer.' 
It was into this highly charged atmosphere of cultural cross-pollination between Japanese Zen and Western post-war anarchy that the green and unworldly Japanese composer Toshi Ichiyanagi was thrust at the beginning of 1954's academic year, when he entered New York's Juilliard Conservatory to study composition under John Cage. Born in 1933, in the overcrowded seaport of Kobe, on Osaka Bay's north-western shore, Ichiyanagi's early mastery of the piano had made him the star of his run-down inner-city high school, endless evenings spent as a cocktail pianist in Kobe's tough harbour bars bringing in essential cash for Toshi 's impoverished parents. The young composer had, furthermore, reached New York only through nonstop hard work, winning Juilliard's prestigious Elizabeth A. Coolidge Prize and the hefty scholarship that accompanied it. Determined to extract every last drop of inspiration from his time as Cage's student, Toshi Ichiyanagi immediately set himself the mighty task of researching everything available about his mentor. Reading of Cage's own student days under Arnold Schoenberg, Ichiyanagi was initially overwhelmed to learn that the great Schoenberg himself had called the young Cage: 'not a composer - but an inventor of genius'. Thereafter, Ichiyanagi burned with the desire to create works to rival those of Cage himself, afire with the notion of becoming 'an inventor of genius'.
Halfway through his first year, Toshi Ichiyanagi began to date the young Yoko Ono, three months older and a student at the nearby Sarah Lawrence College. Although Yoko and her family had arrived in the USA only two years before Ichiyanagi, her family wealth and cultural connections had presented Yoko with an open door into New York's avant-garde, and she was already gaining a reputation in the art community, not as a great artist but as one who made things happen. Yoko's ideas on performance art were highly influenced by the radical Japanese Gutai Art Association, which had formed the previous year and whose ideas took the form of a journal named simply Gutai. In the journals, performance-art works such as Saburo Murakami's 'Work Painted by Throwing a Ball' were described in detail, as was Kazuo Shiraga's 1955 piece, 'Challenging Mud', in which the artist himself crawled through a muddy field, his limbs leaving chaotic marks similar to Jackson Pollock's wild action paintings.
For Yoko, artists existed only in context with their audience, and she had long agreed with the words of Arch Dadaist Marcel Duchamp: 'I attach even more importance to the spectator than to the artist.' Yoko's later assertion that 'you don't need talent to be an artist'  would be exemplified in such Dadaist works as her 'Light Piece', which involved sitting at a piano and lighting a cigarette, and her 'Kitchen Piece', whose sole written instruction that 'the artist should chuck the day's leftovers at a canvas' unintentionally betrayed her rich-girl roots in those austere post-war days. Leftovers? Who had enough for leftovers? Despite their great financial losses during World War II, Yoko's still-wealthy and highly cultured parents were not at all impressed with Toshi's somewhat servile manner while around them, and begged her to find someone else. This, of course, only drew Yoko closer to Ichiyanagi, and the couple thereafter attended Cage's Greenwich Village lectures together, often accompanied by Yoko's future Fluxus artist friend George Maciunas and former jazz musician LaMonte Young. Yoko soon became intoxicated by Cage's lectures and often wrote even more notes than the fastidious Ichiyanagi.
Ichiyanagi's second year at Juilliard ended spectacularly, however, when he won the 1956 Serge Koussevitsky Prize, and the couple celebrated by getting married with the prize money. When Yoko's parents threw a sumptuous party for the couple but refused to attend themselves, the affronted bride insisted that the couple declare their independence by relocating to an unheated fifth-floor loft conversion on Chamber Street, in Manhattan's Lower West Side. But whilst Toshi agonised for months over 'Trio', an eight-minute-long work for harp, flute and Japanese nokan (bamboo flute), Yoko was soon forced to take a job as a waitress to make ends meet, at which point her overly romantic notions of young love were harshly tested.
Throughout 1957, Toshi's epic 23-minute 'String Quartet' presented many problems for his friends in the Juilliard Student Quartet, and seemingly endless rewrites had been necessary to make the piece playable to all. With perfectly bad timing, John Cage chose to unveil his 'Winter Music' just as Toshi's 'String Quartet' premiered. Hailed as Cage's masterpiece, the success of 'Winter Music' pitched Ichiyanagi into a deep depression that his wife could not snap him out of. Throughout 1958-59, Yoko Ono continued to accompany Ichiyanagi to his John Cage lectures, but the marriage had groaned to a standstill by the end of the decade. The couple struggled on throughout 1960, with Yoko's performance art gaining little ground despite her appearance at George Maciunas's gallery. However, Yoko's parents had mysteriously taken a late shine to their proletarian son-in-law, and the older Onos even offered the young couple use of their eleventh-floor Tokyo apartment, should they ever wish to visit Japan.
With the offer of his in-laws' Tokyo apartment ringing in his head, Toshi Ichiyanagi entered New Year 1961 with renewed vigour, as the news came through that Mr. Hidekazu Yoshida of Tokyo's 20th Century Institute had organised an international festival celebrating experimental and avant-garde music for the coming August. Even more important was the news that only Ichiyanagi himself had been invited to represent the music of such avant-garde luminaries as John Cage, Mortan Feldman, Earle Brown and Christian Wolff, In his dreams, Ichiyanagi had always imagined himself as the poor Kobe boy returning as the Culture Hero, clutching scrolls of magnetic tape under each arm as evidence of his time in the Underworld. And now he intended to return home as the Herald of the Coming Future, as John Cage's musical Emissary of Chance...
Unbeknownst to Ichiyanagi, however, Japan's home-grown experimentalists had already started 1961 with something of a bang. In January, the incendiary young pianist Yuji Takahashi had caused a sensation at Nippon Broadcasting's 'Tokyo Gendai Ongakusai' (modern music festival), when his last-minute substitution for the scheduled soloist inspired within him an unparalleled performance of Bo Nilsson's 'Quantitaten'. Watching this masterful recital in the audience was the renowned Greek experimental composer Iannis Xenakis, whose acclamations pitched Takahashi headlong into a long and sustained international career. From now on viewed as a 'leading exponent of the new piano music', Takahashi quickly took his place beside David Tudor and Alfons Kontarsky as the only other pianist truly able to navigate his way through the weight of difficult modern music that was emerging throughout the post-war period.
On the other side of the city, the extrovert members of Tokyo's improvisational ensemble Group Ongaku pressed on with their sonic-research programme. First, leader Takehisa Kosugi had recorded a mesmerizing violin piece composed by Group Ongaku's Yasunao T one. Accompanied by New York violinist Malcolm Goldstein, Kosugi's interpretation of Tone's hypnotic 'Anagram for Strings' was a bilious ever-descending spiral ski slope into the Underworld.  Soon after, Kosugi and Tone corralled the talents of cellist Shukou Mizuno and pianist Chieko Shiomi for the 'Anti-Music and Anti-Dance' symposium at dance teacher Miki Wakamatsu's house in Tokyo. In early summer, Kosugi revealed his own fiuing and explosrve experimental electronic work 'Micro 1', whilst later that summer, at Sogetsu Kaikan Hall, the full Group Ongaku ensemble performed at the dance concert entitled 'Miki Wakamatsu's Recent Works'.
In the meantime, important clandestine activities were taking place in the basement of the Sogetsu Kaikan (culture hall). Throughout the late winter and far into the spring of '61, electronics expert and composer Joji Yuasa had been holed up in the kaikan's sound studio, slowly putting together his ambitious 'Aoi No Ue', his full half-hour musique concrète soundtrack composed in celebration of a Noh play of the same name. Yuasa had by now been engaged in the creation of musique concrète since 1954, having joined the Jikken-Koubou workshop as fifth member in late 1951. With his rich cultural background, Keio University education and friendship with composer Toru Takemitsu, Joji Yuasa's music was singular and uniquely visionary. Indeed, his artful 1959 piece 'Mittsu No Sekai' (Three Worlds), which had been composed for the Tokubei Hanayagi Dance Troupe, had cleverly and wholly successfully utilised Messaien-styled orchestration to add coherence to the otherwise jarring and disorientating sounds. Now, here in the kaikan's basement studio, surrounded by spools of half-inch tape and often sitting up until midnight, Yuasa and engineer Junosuke Okuyama slowly, sometimes painfully slowly, built up Yuasa's epic from numerous disparate sources. As the Aoi No Ue play had long been Joji Yuasa's favourite piece of Noh theatre, he invited his friend, the Noh actor Hideo Kanze, to create the fundamental vocal chant from the original text. Aoi No Ue told the story of the imperilled Princess Aoi, and had been written by the famous fifteenth-century playwright le-Ami, who had based his work on a much earlier eleventh-century work called The Tales of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu.
In order to add weight and authenticity to the Noh chant, actor Hideo enlisted the help of his two brothers Hisao and Shizuo, their performance creating the evocative and eerie fundament on which Yuasa subsequently added sounds. Over the next months, electronic FX, stroked wine glasses and manipulated vibraphones were mixed into the performance, which was then fed through multiple speakers and re-recorded. Slowly dripping water was added, with huge spring reverbs creating the feeling of some death ritual being enacted with unparalleled slowness on the granite floor of a gigantic Cretan antron. Birdsong and backwards birdsong were also added to lend comfort and alienation to the final mix, which was then radically edited and extended. By the time Yuasa and Okuyama stumbled out of Sogetsu with a finished master tape, they had been working for nearly six months. But the piece was so masterful and utterly unlike anything else that it, even today, sounds fresh and timelessly exhilarating.  Long after the event, the hermit-like Yuasa would learn that 'Aoi No Ue' had won him the Jury's Special Prize at the 1961 Berlin Film Festival.
And so we arrive in August 1961, at the moment when Toshi Ichiyanagi, the poor boy from Kobe, returned to his homeland from America after six long years away - returned for the glorious musical recital of which he had long dreamed. Armed with all of our prior knowledge of Japan's already healthy experimental scene, it's nigh on impossible to entirely accept Toshi lchiyanagi's highly personalised recent claim that 'the fall of 1961 marked the dawn of Japan's era of experimental music'.  But there's little doubt that the composer's August performances at the Sogetsu Kaikan Hall were anything less than sensational. And although the Ichiyanagi Recital, as it has come to be known, was the first encounter by Japanese audiences with John Cage's concept of accidental or indeterminate music, the most important aspect of the shows appears to have been Ichiyanagi's own place in the greater scheme of things. For the Japanese accepted the validity of Cage's peculiar music far more readily, safe in the knowledge that their man Ichiyanagi was not only in direct contact with Cage, Earle Brown and Morton Feldman, but was considered by them all to be their peer and worthy representative.
The huge success of the Ichiyanagi Recital ignited a series of similar concerts that autumn, first on 15th September, when Group Ongaku returned to Sogetsu Kaikan Hall for their 'Concert for Musical Improvisation & Sound Objects'. Four of the ensemble returned to the hall the following month to open the proceedings at the Yuji Takahashi recital, on 30th October. With his typical flair and moody performance style, the young master pianist delivered an outstanding performance of John Cage's 1957 masterpiece 'Winter Music' in a ninety-minute recital that held the audience spellbound. Continuing the momentum, Ichiyanagi returned to the Sogetsu Kaikan on 30th November, to deliver a startling first performance of Cage's electronic music. The results were so well received that Ichiyanagi was, in December, invited by Yuji Takahashi to form the New Directions Music Ensemble with himself, experimental violinist Kenji Kobayashi and the forward-thinking musicologist Kuniharu Akiyama, most famous as founder of the Jikken-Koubou Experimental Workshop back in 1951.
With the spectacular success of the previous autumn behind him, Toshi Ichiyanagi spent Christmas '61 entertaining his new colleagues in the sumptuous surroundings of his in-laws' eleventh-floor Tokyo apartment. Yuji Takahashi was by far the most talented young pianist that Ichiyanagi had ever encountered, and the composer took careful note of Takahashi's commitment to setting everything down on tape for posterity while its composer's original intentions were still fresh in everyone's mind. Back in New York, eighteen months previously, one of Ichiyanagi's most difficult compositions, the fifteen-minute 'Music for Metronomes' - an abstract piece employing massed electric metronomes 'in addition to other sound-making objects and instruments' - had caused such head-scratching by the prospective musicians that Ichiyanagi had, out of frustration and misguided compassion, dropped the piece entirely.  Feeling far more confident now that he was back in the bosom of his own culture, Ichiyanagi was determined that such things should no longer happen. In New York, his mentor was more than delighted with the reports coming out of Tokyo; hell, Cage's ideas were receiving more coverage in Japan than here in New York. The elated Cage readily agreed to appear in Japan that coming February in a series of shows, to be billed, appropriately enough, as 'John Cage Shock'.
When Yoko Ono heard of Cage's impending trip to Tokyo, she took matters into her own hands and contacted Cage, asking permission to open his Japanese shows with some of her own performance art. Cage was more than happy to oblige her. He had a soft spot for this turbulent troublesome imp of the perverse, and had been dismayed to learn of the break-up of her marriage to Ichiyanagi. Furthermore, while her estranged husband had been doing such a fine job as Cage's Japanese ambassador to Tokyo, Yoko had sought to prove herself with several more of her singular performance actions. And while none of the shows had succeeded in anything more than raising the psychic hackles of New York's art critics, Cage was percipient enough to recognise that few so-called artists other than Yoko herself would have dared celebrate their debut performance at Carnegie Recital Hall by miking up the flushing toilet in the ladies' room. Indeed, it was the contrary and unexplainable nature of Yoko's shows that would later inspire her friend George Maciunas to describe this new art movement as 'Fluxus' - forever changing, being forever in a state of flux.
Stepping off the plane into the freezing February air at Tokyo's Haneda Airport, both John Cage and Yoko Ono were giddy with the possibilities that this Japanese trip had in store for them. Cage was thirty-seven years old, yet beginning to recognise that his singularly Zen attitude to time and the manner in which he projected his music into time was slowly making more and more sense to more and more people. Yoko Ono, on the other hand, was, at twenty-nine years old, struggling to convince herself that her art was really her future, and hoping for a reconciliation with a husband whom she'd been more than happy to wave goodbye to twelve months previously.
The reunion between the estranged Ichiyanagis was not as Yoko had planned, however. Indeed, Yoko's feet had barely alighted on Japanese soil when she recognised in her former husband an entirely new and indomitable spirit that she had never experienced back in New York. Toshi greeted Cage not as a mentor, but with the muscular virility of an excited collaborator, and the pair talked almost incessantly all the way into Tokyo. That cold February night in 1962, the crowds that gathered in Sogetsu Kaikan Hall gave Yoko's performance short shrift, yet greeted her husband enthusiastically when he walked out after her performance to announce John Cage. For Yoke, the entire tour was a disaster as Cage's engaging performances and easy style captivated the Japanese press; Yoko's own performances were never more than a footnote to Cage's rave reviews, and mostly even less than that. Lonely and depressed and feeling foolish for having returned to her homeland with such high hopes, the erstwhile Mrs Ichiyanagi took an overdose of sleeping pills and woke up in a mental institution under extreme sedation.
Underground art in the wake of Cage's visit was, however, raging. And although emphatically the least musical of the hefty New Directions Music Ensemble, art critic and musicologist Kuniharu Akayima had taken Tokyo's post-'John Cage Shock' world by storm with his extraordinary 'Noh-Miso', a 24-minute musique concrète composition which Akiyama had created as an accompaniment for four February '62 performances at the Sogetsu Kaikan Hall, by the experimental puppet-theatre group Hitomi-za. Akayima had modulated the sound of Yuji Takahashi's piano as the virtuoso reached inside the instrument's belly to scrape the strings, as well as employing what later came to be standard musique concrète techniques: rough-cutting together all manner of disembodied voices, descending bowed-string instruments, snatches of seemingly famous tunes, repeated reversed human coughs, stutters, burps, and other arbitrary sounds in order to create a sinister unease that permeated throughout. Unfortunately for composer Joji Yuasa, whose contribution to the puppet show 'Moment Grand-Guignolesques' featured an accompaniment by Group Ongaku, the recording engineer failed to engage the 'record' button across certain machines, so most of the performance was lost. 
Later that spring, Yuji Takahashi debuted a radical and seethingly amorphous piano piece 'Herma' that Takahashi himself had commissioned from Greek composer Iannis Xenakis, who had been lecturing in Japan throughout 1961. After several friends had admonished him for writing something 'unplayable', the Greek composer had phoned the young pianist to apologise for the difficulty of the piano piece. With typical aplomb, Takahashi brushed aside Xenakis's apology, admitting that, yes, it had been a little difficult to play at first, but he could now play the entire piece from memory. At the same Tokyo premiere, Takahashi had unveiled a new piano piece by Toru Takemitsu, entitled 'Corona', plus one of his own compositions, a long untitled piece for electronics and twelve instruments. All were rapturously received by audience and press alike.
Buoyed up by the success of his fellow members of the New Directions Music Ensemble, Ichiyanagi completed his 'Parallel Music', a nine-minute-long electronic piece that was premiered as a radio broadcast by NHK, in October '62. As a sop to his beleaguered ex-wife, Ichiyanagi even arranged for Yoko to record the soundtrack for Ai (Love) a movie by his friend Takahiko Iimura. Yoko achieved her contribution to the movie by hanging a microphone out of the window of the Ono family apartment and combining the results with white noise. But the reasons for her still-fragile mental state were revealed through some detective work by her new beau, an English drummer fluent in Japanese named Tony Cox. Checking her prescription one day, Cox discovered that the dosage prescribed for Yoko was considerably higher than the legal limit, and he proceeded to take charge of her affairs.
The success of John Cage's Japanese visit had, meanwhile, also added spectacularly to the manner in which the members of the Group Ongaku ensemble were treated. Although the Sogetsu Kaikan Hall had continued to be a kind of home fixture for all of them, art galleries and museums throughout Tokyo now threw open their doors to the young musicians. At Tokyo's Minami Gallery, Group Ongaku performed Yasunao Tone's 'One Man Show', whilst an evening performance at the prestigious Fugetsudo Hall was billed 'Toshi Ichiyanagi & Group Ongaku'. Next came performances at Tokyo Municipal Museum's spectacular 'Yomiuri Independent Exhibition', while Takehisa Kosugi and Yasunao Tone appeared as an improvisational duo at several actions and happenings, including the defiantly anarchic 'Dinner Party on the Anniversary of the Defeat of World War II'. Taking place at Tokyo's Kunitachi Public Hall, this event caused outright anger among many war veterans and many of the performers were intimidated and threatened by members of right-wing groups. There was, however, no turning back for Japan's new wave of performance artists, and the 'Dinner Party' was just a taste of the anarchy that was to come. In gratitude for freeing up so many Japanese minds throughout 1962, the final event of the year was a special celebration at Tokyo's Asbestos Hall, entitled 'Concert in Honour of John Cage and David Tudor'.
If 1962 had been the year of the recital, then '63 turned out to be the year of the action group, as the outrageous performance-art trio Hi-Red Center was blasted into being at the behest of Group Ongaku's Yasunao Tone. Hi-Red Center's members were three young Fluxus artists Jiro Takamatsu, Genpei Akasegawa and Natsuyuki Nakanishi, all of whom were intent on creating 'live action happenings', amorphous events whose only hard evidence of their having taken place at all would be in photographs and newspaper reports. Influenced by Yoko Ono's solo 'toilet flushing' actions at Carnegie Recital Hall, Hi-Red Center had actually commenced their cultural assault the previous November at the so-called 'Waseda University Event', in which the three protagonists had painted all the seats of the public toilets bright red. But now urged on by Yasunao Tone, the three enlisted the aid of other like-minded 'auxiliary members' in order to enlarge the scope of their statements.
The year of action commenced with Genpei Akasegawa's show at the Shinjuku Daiichi art gallery, in early February. Aided by several Fluxus members, Hi-Red Center printed out counterfeit I,OOO-yen notes with Hi-Red Center invitations concealed within Akasegawa's subtle design. These were then mailed out in money envelopes. In March 1963, at Tokyo's Ueno Museum, Hi-Red Center staged the 'Yomiuri Andi-pandan Show', in which 10,000 clothes pegs handmade by Natsuyuki Nakanishi were attached to visitors by the artist himself, and more counterfeit 1,000-yen bills were given away. A miniature dinner comprising five grammes of curried rice or seven grammes of spaghetti was served to those visitors willing to pay 100 yen. Throughout the proceedings, Fluxus associate M. Kazakura danced naked to the music of Group Ongaku founder Takehisa Kosugi, who 'performed his Anima 2 by entering a bag and playing an Indian drum inside'.
Accompanied by Group Ongaku's cellist Shukou Mizuno, Kosugi and Tone continued to pursue their musical actions, first at the 'Dance Action 2' at Tokyo's Toshi-center Hall, thereafter returning to the Sogetsu Kaikan Hall for the performance-art festival 'Sweet 16'. However, Tone and the rest of Group Ongaku were highly shocked when, in spring '63, Takehisa Kosugi announced his decision to quit the ensemble. The others petitioned Kosugi to stay, but the composer, having long ago completed his university studies, was adamant that he should turn his considerable experimental-music research into a sustainable career. Kosugi had received an offer of employment from soundtrack composer Matsuo Oh no, who'd just been commissioned by NHK-TV to write and record the music for a brand-new futuristic TV cartoon series entitled 'Tetsuwan Atom' (Atom Boy). With a decent recording budget, access to state-of-the-art technology and guaranteed income for a full year, Kosugi had jumped at the chance to be involved.
Reeling from the loss of his best friend to a TV series, Yasunao Tone now poured his energies into becoming Hi-Red Center's spiritual mentor, suggesting happenings, co-ordinating events and adding his considerable imagination to wreaking further havoc on the Tokyo streets. On 7th May, Hi-Red Center returned to the Shinjuku Daiichi gallery for their '3rd Mixer Plan' happening, closely followed by their so-called 'Promotional Event' at Shinbashi Station Square on 10th May. Much of the late spring and early summer was spent in the organisation of special events and commissioning auxiliary members for special performances. On 15th August, inspired by the previous year's antagonistic 'Dinner Party on the Anniversary of the Defeat of World War II', Hi-Red Center celebrated the similarly argumentative 'Dinner Party on the Anniversary of Non-Victory Day', in which performers visited Tokyo's Citizens' Hall, where 'a great and delicious meal [was] eaten energetically by the performers while the audience observed'. Across the city, on the roof of the Bijitu-Shuttupan Corporation Building, an absurd dance was enacted entitled 'Ror-Rogy', whilst the dinner party came to its ritual conclusion at midnight, as Fluxus associate M. Kazakura branded his chest with a hot iron.
While many of Japan's main underground composers found themselves caught up in these exhilarating street actions, deep in the basement studio of Sagetsu Kaikan, experimental composer Joji Yuasa quietly completed another of his extraordinarily evocative theatre works entitled 'Oen' (A Woman Named 'En'). Yuasa once again summoned up a full half hour of his mind-manifestingly voluminous and fragmented combination of musique concrète, Noh theatre and ambient orchestration to tell the tragic tale of Den, a woman who was imprisoned for forty years during the Edo era. Around the same time as Yuasa was emerging from his months of self-imposed hermitdom - November '63 - Takehisa Kosugi was at the NHK-TV studio on the other side of Tokyo, having taken the evening off from his 'Atom Boy' recording schedule in order to participate in Hi-Red Center's first TV appearance. And as Kosugi once more lay inside his bag performing the solo drum piece 'Anima 2', Fluxus associate M. Kazakura danced and blew up balloons for the TV cameras.
While the wider world would be fixing its gaze on Japan's forthcoming 1964 Tokyo Olympics, the microcosmic Japanese underground clanged with the deafening news that the Tokyo Metropolitan Police had, on 8th January, arrested Hi-Red Center's Genpei Akasegawa in connection with his production of counterfeit 1,000-yen notes. But when the 27th January edition of the Asaki newspaper accused Akasegawa outright of being a forger, Hi-Red Center inaugurated a protest action against the publication. Writing in the Japanese daily Nippon Dokusho two weeks later, Akasegawa explained his actions in a piece headlined: 'My Counterfeit 1000Y As a Problem to Capitalist Realism'. But while Akasegawa's problems appeared too absurd to the outside world to have any possible serious outcome, the ramifications of the artist's actions were becoming increasingly worrying to Yasunao Tone, himself almost a generation older than the members of Hi-Red Center and cognisant of the bigger picture. Mindful of Akasegawa's refusal to take his situation seriously, Tone began to compile a coherent testimony of all Hi-Red Center's previous activities in order to explain the alleged counterfeiting within the original context of the group's overall spirit of intentions. Tone's contemporary in experimental music, Toshiro Mayuzumi, had in the meantime just won himself the prestigious Mainichi Music Prize with his electronic-music soundtrack for the forthcoming movie Tokyo Olympic.  Its extremely high profile virtually handed Mayuzumi an international career, for within the month the composer had been commissioned by American director John Huston to write the soundtrack music for his impending movie epic The Bible.
Also in America, a devotee of John Cage named Terry Riley had just released his insidious orchestral drone-a-thon IN C to universal acclaim, whilst Stockhausen had made the momentous decision to bring his electronic music to the concert hall with a reduced-in-size ensemble modishly named the Stockhausen Group, 'the members of which performed on volume knobs, ring modulators, shortwave radios, and a few acoustic instruments. Instead of creating traditional scores, Stockhausen drew symbolic charts with descriptions of the processes to be realized.'  Back in Tokyo, Toshi Ichiyanagi completed his experimental piece for orchestra and tape recorder, entitled 'Life Music',  and the convalescing Yoko Ono contributed vocals to her ex-husband's soundtrack for the movie AOS, by director Yoji Kuri. Yoko was by this time married to her temporary saviour, the young drummer Tony Cox, and the couple planned that she should soon resume her performance-art career in New York.
The fortunes of Hi-Red Center, however, remained in the balance throughout 1964, as Yasunao Tone petitioned the three members to keep their actions somewhat toned down. Taking Tone's pleas as literally as they could, Hi-Red Center immediately announced that their forthcoming event 'The Great Panorama Show' would take place at the Naiqua Gallery between 12th and 17th June. Lines of puzzled visitors remained shut out of the locked gallery for the entire five days, while, in the final hour of the final day, the beleaguered Akasegawa released a single cockroach on to the gallery floor as a symbolic gesture of his new restrictions.
Yasunao Tone was also feeling the walls closing in now that his erstwhile cohort Takehisa Kosugi was ensconced in the NHK-TV recording studio twenty hours per day. As nursemaid of Hi-Red Center, Tone felt the loss of Group Ongaku more acutely than anyone else in the ensemble. For, although Kosugi had been around for several of the early Hi-Red Center actions, it was becoming increasingly clear to Tone that Kosugi's cartoon-series project was going to be a long and protracted affair. And so, as the whole of Japan geared up for the 10th October opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics, Hi-Red Center - urged on by an ever more belligerent Yasunao Tone - geared up for their next action, also to be held on opening-ceremony day.
As the first Asian nation to win the honour of hosting the Olympic Games, Japan's Olympic committee had chosen a highly symbolic (and highly controversial) athlete to light the Olympic flame. For Yoshinori Sakai was neither old enough nor good enough to be a part of Japan's Olympic team, having been selected for the honour of lighting the flame purely because he'd been born in Hiroshima, on 6th August 1945, the very day that the Allies had dropped the atomic bomb. Shortly after the opening ceremony, Hi-Red Center performed their spectacular 'Roof Event' aka 'The Ochanomizu Drop' in which the three protagonists stood on the flat roof of Tokyo's Ikenobo Building and threw caution to the wind, along with several pairs of trousers, shirts, umpteen shoes and a full trunk of books, all of which bombarded bewildered passersby as they went Quietly about their business several storeys below. Thereafter, the debris was collected, labelled and stored in the baggage room of Ochanomizu railway station, while T one breathed a sigh of relief that no innocent had been injured by the fusillade of random laundry.
Six days later, on 16th October, Hi-Red Center concluded their yearly list of actions with what would become one of the Fluxus movement's most famous art pieces: 'The Cleaning E vent' aka 'Be Clean!' Waking early, they dressed in white coats, white gloves, surgical masks, blind-man's spectacles and armbands printed with Hi-Red Center insignia. At 9.30 a.m., everyone gathered at one end of Namiki Street, in Tokyo's frantic Ginza district, where (according to the action group's original printed directions) 'Performers used dusters, floor brooms, house-cloths, scrubbing brushes... cleaning fluid, soap, deodorizer, alcohol, etc. to clean the streets which they did very gently as they would their own rooms'. The action complete, Namiki Street was then marked with posters that announced: 'this place already cleaned'.
While the Japanese pop music of 1965 still remained in thrall to the West, the singular nature of Japan's experimental culture was increasingly gaining interest in Europe and the USA, where Hi-Red Center was receiving plaudits from New York's Fluxus artists, and several improvisational ensembles were at last picking up where the now-defunct Group Ongaku had left off. However, whilst Messrs Tone, Kosugi and the rest of the Group Ongaku ensemble had taken their inspiration from such Japanese institutions as Buddhist gagaku percussion ceremonies and the rituals of Noh theatre, those Western musicians at the forefront of improvised music were mostly jazz guys who had been around to experience the pioneering late '50s work of Cecil Taylor, Ornette Coleman and Sun Ra. However, as jazz had its roots in the performance of popular songs of the day, these players tended to associate improvisation mostly with having the confidence to stray from an original melody, an essential element entirely absent in Japanese improvisation. And so, when drummer John Stevens formed his Spontaneous Music Ensemble in 1965, the Londoner's choice of musical cohorts ensured that whatever first burst forth from the ensemble would always be rooted in jazz before devolving into the kind of abstract and buzzing atonal soundscapes that the players themselves affectionately termed 'insect improv'.  The same could be said of other free ensembles of the '65 generation, especially Rome's Musica Elettronica Viva, formed by seven American ex-pats, London's AMM, who played 'Spontaneous Underground' sessions at the Marquee Club; and Chicago's portentously named Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, formed by Anthony Braxton, Famoudou Don Moye and future Miles Davis drummer Jack DeJohnette. The most notable example of this 'devolved jazz' approach occurred - again in '65 - on side two of Patty Waters's debut LP for ESP-Disk PATTY WATERS SINGS, on which the young jazz singer abstractedly repeated the traditional tune 'Black Is the Colour of My True Love's Hair' for thirteen avant-garde minutes of apoplexy. So extreme was Waters's inconsolable and demented femaelstrom that it gained instant legend status within underground art communities across the world, and would become the blueprint for Yoko Ono's subsequent 'singing' style.
But still these improvisational ensembles of the West required time for their musical pieces to descend into the primal murk of abstraction. Rarely if ever did they commence with the same emphatic amphibian confidence that Group Ongaku had always appeared proud to exhibit. Ironically, however, Japan's own jazz community was so rooted in Western culture that its musicians exhibited no desire whatsoever to follow Group Ongaku's improvisational lead, at least, that is, not until the Spontaneous Music Ensemble and their ilk had validated such free actions. Indeed, most of the Japanese jazz scene was currently following the lead of their most popular player, saxophonist Sadao Watanabe, whose versions of such Top 40 hits as Jimmy Smith's 'The Cat' and Peter, Paul & Mary's 'Trains and Boats and Planes' had made him into a big star. Jazz was by now a huge business in Japan, and such top players as Watanabe and trumpeter Terumasa Hino had also become popular TV personalities, having long before eschewed the more radical free-jazz approach in favour of the guaranteed chart smashes that Watanabe in particular had scored with his massive LP SADAO WATANABE PLAYS BACHARACH & THE BEATLES. That Miles Davis himself had rejected the free-jazz route was a guarantee of its experiments receiving short shrift, at least initially, in a country where the sharply dressed trumpeter was considered to be the ultimate icon of existentialist cool.
By 1965, however, the free-jazz experiments of Sun Ra, John Coltrane and Albert Ayler had caused enough of a schism to develop among Japan's jazz community for the arrival of scratchy meltdown outfits such as AMM and the Spontaneous Music Ensemble to have a considerable knock-on effect even among Japan's most seasoned jazz veterans. Spurred on not so much by the music but by the wayward attitudes of these Occidental broadsiders, Tokyo jazzer Toshiyuki Miyami of the New Herd Orchestra brought together the Modern Jazz Trio Club in late 1965. Inspired by the idea of consciously and intellectually moving jazz forward out of its cosy post-'50s night-club-entertainment cui de sac, Miyami envisioned the Modern Jazz Trio Club not as a band, but as a kind of 'Free Thinkers' Union' in which the most visionary and open-minded of jazz composers could write together, discussing arrangement methods and conceptualising generally about the route forwards. Completed by heavyweight jazz composers Keitaro Miho, Norio Maeda and Kiyoshi Yamaya, the Modern Jazz Trio Club would come to exert considerable influence, not only on the Japanese jazz community, but also on the country's entire experimental-music scene of the late '60s and early '70s. However, like the 'composer group' Sannin no Kai (Group of Three) that composers Toshiro Mayuzumi, Ikuma Oan and Yasushi Akutagawa had formed back in 1953, Miyami's Modern Jazz Trio Club would remain for ever a back-room project, a sonic Masonic lodge of movers and hip shakers.
By the mid-'60s, certain Japanese ideas were slowly penetrating the West's superiority complex. And, as Toshi Ichiyanagi's erstwhile colleague Yuji Takahashi jetted from his Berlin post with Xenakis to a new scholarship in San Francisco, Ichiyanagi himself flew to New York for the first time since he'd returned to Japan as John Cage's emissary half a decade before. Ichiyanagi had much to be happy about. Tokyo's Victor Records had recently dedicated an entire side of vinyl to the composer's new untitled seventeen-minute electro-acoustic work on the double-LP ORCHESTRAL SPACE, a project that also celebrated the work of Toru Takemitsu, Joji Yuasa and Takahashi himself. Furthermore, new Ichiyanagi music now appeared on a sumptuous New York vanity project shared with Yoji Kuri and ex-wife Yoko Ono. This limited edition of 300 red vinyl 7" EPs (with an accompanying book) was released on the tiny Greenwich Village imprint Salon de Coco, whose wealthy owner had now graciously invited Ichiyanagi over to New York for the EP's promotion. Quickly sucked back into the New York street life that he'd fled over five years before, Ichiyanagi attended 'Nine Evenings of Art in the Armoury', a cultural experiment sponsored by the Bell Laboratories and co-ordinated by an exciting new company E.A.T. (Experiments in Art & Technology). E.A.T. was run by Bell engineer Bill Kluver, a Ph.D. in electrical engineering, long-time devotee of William Burroughs and cohort of Andy Warhol. Kluver believed that heavy technology should be turned over to the art community in order to investigate its potential artistic purposes. And so, with the class of the true cultural visionary, Kluver rented out the New York armoury for nine evenings during the summer of '66, during which time hundreds of New York artists, Andy Warhol and Jasper Johns among them, came to see for themselves where heavy technology could take them.
Ichiyanagi was still reeling from the after-effects of the Armoury Show when the Rockefeller Trust invited him to the Museum of Modern Art for an exhibition by the young Japanese artist Tadanori Yoko'o. Unlike the majority of modern artists, Yoko'o had eschewed pop art in favour of a kind of radical traditionalism, and Ichiyanagi was amazed at the manner in which Yoko'o had integrated famous photos into cartoon settings, juxtaposing icons such as Yukio Mishima next to lactating women, and America's President Lyndon Johnson bestriding mountains - the world in one hand and a fighter plane in the other. Furthermore, Yoko'o's highly original psychedelic style had turned him into a kind of hippie godfather figure among many young Japanese. When Ichiyanagi met the artist later that evening, the two got along so well that Yoko'o's wife invited the composer to stay at their New York apartment. And for the next couple of weeks, Mr and Mrs Yoko'o watched their houseguest bloom into a psychedelicised hippie. The previously stuffy Ichiyanagi dumped his conservative suits in favour of rococo gear, adopted circular shades in place of his horn rims and spent hours every day mesmerised by the endless rotations of a clockwork carousel in the guest room. Every day, he returned from his Manhattan wanderings with a new psychedelic tie, while his hosts became convinced that the composer was tripping for the entire duration of his stay with them. Indeed, these effects on Ichiyanagi were so notable that they were to precipitate in him an artistic change such that many of his oldest friends, John Cage and ex-wife Yoko Ono included, felt that they hardly knew him any more.
Continuing the game of metaphysical musical chairs, NHK Broadcasting, with typical aplomb, chose to celebrate their fiftieth anniversary by commissioning Karlheinz Stockhausen to spend February to April '66 in their Tokyo studio creating two new electronic works. Like many Western artists, Stockhausen found Japanese culture so entirely overwhelming that he initially felt as though he had fetched up on a different planet. The jet lag alone cost him a week's work, and, for a workaholic such as Stockhausen, this was emotionally disastrous. Thereafter, the composer found himself so drawn to this alien land that he became, in his own words, 'more Japanese than the Japanese', Just as John Cage's encounter with Zen philosophy had entirely altered the composer's relationship with time, so Stockhausen's months in Japan reorientated his own response to time and the manner in which we pass through it. Attending one of Japan's slowly unfolding Buddhist rituals, a day-long event, Stockhausen was forced to stop fidgeting and allow the drama of the sky above him to take hold. This was a revelation to the uptight composer. Stockhausen immediately recognised that the seemingly endless Japanese tea ceremonies were not for the drinking, but for the process of the ritual itself. Thereafter, he devoted much of his time in Japan to exploring traditional Noh dramas, intrigued by their sudden tempo shifts and bizarre time transitions; he watched spellbound as gagaku percussionists performed their highly stylised but mainly rhythmless ceremonial music, these Japanese conventions challenging his most basic ideas on the uses of percussion. Overwhelmed by all of this and humming with the possibilities, Stockhausen was inspired to create a new kind of music, what he would come to call 'Telemusick', which the composer described as 'a music of the whole world, of all countries and races'. 
Stockhausen quit Japan in late April 1966, just eight weeks before the Beatles hit Tokyo. But before he left, the composer made a point of paying a visit to that same Japanese Zen philosopher who had, over a decade before, radically altered John Cage's worldview. Now over ninety years old, Daisetsu T. Suzuki was fascinated by Stockhausen's deep concerns about the manner in which his own music was made. Stockhausen confessed to Suzuki that new technology and his own fascination with it forced the composer to create sound in 'a very artificial way'. Suzuki, however, would have none of it, accusing Stockhausen of creating his own problems by drawing too many arbitrary Western lines between electronic technology and traditional acoustic ways of composing. From the Zen philosopher's point of view, Stockhausen was still on course and staying absolutely true to his artistic convictions: 'I cannot understand why you say this is artificial and this is natural... It would only be artificial if you went against your inner conviction. You're being completely natural in the way you do it.'
In New York, during 1965, several Fluxus artists acknowledged their debt to Hi-Red Center's punk ethos by re-enacting the trio's 'Cleaning Event', while George Maciunas issued a highly detailed and annotated Tokyo Street Map of Hi-Red Center's various activities from his influential Fluxus Publishing Company. This high-level recognition from the cultural mothership came none too soon for the beleaguered Genpei Akasegawa, whose status as a probable professional counterfeiter increased with each new article that appeared in Japan's press. For while the art world was happy to turn Akasegawa's predicament into an artistic cause celebre, the Tokyo District Court was preparing its case for his prosecution. The case was, furthermore, so singular that Yasunao Tone was forced to become the co-author of Akasegawa's opening defence statement, as the artist's chief defence lawyer readily admitted to having extreme difficulties in recognising the subtleties involved. Feeling the eyes of the popular press upon them at all times, the three members of Hi-Red Center were, therefore, highly delighted to accept George Maciunas' invitation to New York. And on 4th June 1966, they performed their 'Hi-Red Center Fluxclinic' at Manhattan's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel , in which arbitrary details were taken from a pre-planned list of Fluxus patrons and integrated into a fake health report for which Maciunas himself designed a chart of 'pseudo-medical records' as part of the presentation piece.
Most peculiarly for these anti-traditionalist street punks of Hi-Red Center, the three found themselves, at the height of a scorching Manhattan summer, engaged in a bizarre piece of traditionalism. At the behest of grand master Maciunas, Hi-Red Center re-enacted their now legendary 'Street Cleaning Event at Grand Army Plaza, between 58th Street and 8th Avenue. Like the punks they undoubtedly were, however, this refusenik trio re-drew their original brief somewhat by painting an area of the plaza in their trademark red, although this was rather poorly represented in the single commemorative photograph taken by Madunas himself. Yasunao Tone, meanwhile, was delighted by the international press response to Hi-Red Center's New York actions, and believed it was essential to capitalise on this increased level of interest. And so, in the autumn of 1966, Tone organised the 'Biogode Process Music Festival', the world's first computer-arts festival. Tone then used the event as a platform on which to showcase his new computer-art group Team Random, a musical collective brought together to perform Tone's compositions on programmed Univac mainframes.
The overwhelming result of such important 1966 events as the Bell Armoury Show, the Hi-Red Center actions, Tone's computer-arts festival and both the Beatles' and Stockhausen's high-visibility presence in Japan, was that the invisible barriers that had previously existed between technology, popular culture, serious art and abstract action art all began to break down. If the Bell Laboratories were courting Andy Warhol's opinion, who was anyone else to doubt his cultural credentials? If it was possible in New York to buy a highly detailed Hi-Red Center street map of fleeting moments enacted thousands of miles away in Tokyo, then the map itself (and the effort that went into plotting it) was evidence enough of the validity of those events. The artist, the performer, the poet and the storyteller, the singer and musician, the magician, the Illusionist: all shared their beginnings as the shaman/priest of the tribe. Far back in humanity's nomadic days, when rituals were conceived on the hoof as it were, the temple had rarely needed to be anything more than a particularly significant and time-honoured tribal location: a great tree where great-grandfather had had a meaningful dream; a natural gorge where the echo seemed to repeat everything spoken by the shaman's voice; an isthmus of land bisected by two fast-flowing rivers; anywhere the shaman could contain the family band or tribe long enough to show them the illusion that they were being addressed by the Gods.
In the latter part of the mid-'60s, as Western secular culture increasingly turned its back on organised religion, this breaking-down of cultural barriers not only prepared the minds of the general population to receive this information from new and unexpected sources such as entertainers and adventurers, but it also opened up the minds of the artists themselves, allowing the greatest among them to glimpse just what could be achieved were they only to let themselves fly unfettered. For Westerners, the priests were no longer in churches - almost anywhere but. The priests were now folk singers, they were rock singers, they were moulders of the new technologies, they were sci-fi writers, they were beat poets, they were Olympic athletes, they were hanging in space on the end of a rope. While Buzz Aldrin space-walked behind his Gemini craft, the Russian cosmonauts even made heroes of humanity's oldest ally, as Laika the German shepherd returned in good health from her Soyuz mission. Furthermore, the swinging doors between cultures almost came off their hinges that summer of '66, as the World Cup brought on to the world's stage such dazzling mythical beings as Portugal's Eusebio and Brazil's Pele. And as 1966 tumbled to its juddering conclusion, the most symbolic meeting of the entire period took place on 9th November 1966, when Beatle John visited Yoko Ono's exhibition 'Unfinished Paintings and Objects' at London's Indica Gallery.
While the result of this mighty cultural cross-pollination created a slamming, humping, bucking bronco of action and chaotic creativity in such cities as Swinging London, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, 1967 remained something of a cosmic in-between time in Tokyo and much of the rest of the world. And so, while Yoko Ono was appearing alongside Pink Floyd, the Move, AMM, John's Children, Syn and the Soft Machine on the bill of The 14-Hour Technicolour Dream' at London's Alexandra Palace, performing her 'Cut Piece', in which members of the audience were invited to remove her clothes with scissors, her ex-husband Toshi Ichiyanagi was delivering the first musical evidence of his psychedelically informed New York experiences with a voice-and-computer piece entitled 'Extended Voices'. However, without the wherewithal to act upon the new psychedelic era, drug-free Japan could only imagine what an acid trip would be like. And without psychedelic drugs, truly psychedelic music just couldn't be made. The only Japanese then on acid were those abroad in the West. Moreover, despite the Beatles' Japanese tour of the previous year having set the nation alight, the fallout was disappointingly far short of artistic expectations, being little more than a field day for entrepreneurs, as hundreds of groups had formed with the sole intention of aping their heroes (see Book One, Chapter Four).
Japanese pop in '67 was in stasis; three years behind the times with a chart filled to the brim with Herman's Hermits wannabes, Animals-alikes and bands with bad cases of the Beatles. And yet Beatle John was looking to the underground and the experimental for his own inspiration. Indeed, Lennon was constantly on the phone to Karlheinz Stockhausen throughout '67, according to the composer himself.  The circle was completed, however, when, as the Visiting Professor of Composition at San Francisco's University of Davis, even Stockhausen became enamoured of the burgeoning psychedelic scene when he heard Frank Zappa & the Mothers and Jefferson Airplane, and met the Grateful Dead in summer 1967, famously remarking of psychedelic music: 'It really blows my mind.'  In November '67, the first fruits of Stockhausen's Japanese vision of 'a music of the whole world, of all countries and races' could be experienced at the premiere of his incredible 'Hymnen', a rich musique-concrète-cum-sample-montage of the world's most famous national anthems as filtered through radio sets and various other receivers.
Also in 1967, Group Ongaku's Takehisa Kosugi emerged at last from his three years of creating electronic TV scores, hungry for the rumbling activism that his erstwhile colleague Yasunao Tone had engaged upon with Hi-Red Center. On an even more positive note, Hi-Red Center's Genpei Akasegawa, although found guilty of conspiracy to counterfeit money, was released back into the community on 24th June, having been sentenced to serve just one year's probation.  This was an outstanding result for Akasegawa, who was by now recognised as a culture hero among both the underground art community and the disillusioned young longhairs who had begun to congregate in Tokyo's Shinjuku area. If the anarchic actions of Hi-Red Center were being taken seriously in the art-houses of New York, then they were of even more vital importance to Japan's new wandering futen generation, whose own parents had been the brainwashed footfolk of Emperor Hirohito's war machine. And while the saccharine clamour of umpteen mop-headed Group Sounds bands ducked and dived, preened and sashayed, did anything their managers asked of them in ever more desperate attempts to reach the cherished number-one spot on Japan's Oricon Top 40, droves of disenfranchised teenagers quit their rural homes and made their way towards Tokyo and the other cities within the congested conurbation that strung out east-west across the bulging midriff of the main island of Honshu.
Rock'n'roll music and the experimental scene collided head-on in May 1968 with the release of John & Yoko's terrible LP UNFINISHED MUSIC NO. 1: TWO VIRGINS, the front sleeve of which showed them both totally naked, a notion so disturbing to the public that it quite obscured the fact that the shrieking avant-garde bird song contained within moaning-minnied at its audience from as far left of field as the thorniest of hedges would allow. But if viewing a Beatle's wedding tackle wasn't heart-stopping enough for the Western media, journalists were soon required to respond to the Beatles' 'Revolution Number 9', a derivative slab of musique concrète that occupied the penultimate slot on side four of THE BEATLES, the fabulous four's brand new double-LP. Out of context, 'Revolution Number 9' sounded just like a radio edit of side three of Stockhausen's epic HYMNEN double-LP, and wouldn't have sounded out of place on Frank Zappa's LUMPY GRAVY, released twelve months earlier. However, sandwiched between the sub-'1 Am The Walrus' cod/plod of 'Cry Baby Cry' and the Spanish-galleon over-arrangement of Macca's mawkish 'Goodnight', John and Yoko's avant-garde statement outstayed its welcome within the first minute then hung around to disastrous effect as listeners kicked their heels urging the damn thing to hurry up and finish. The press, discovering that neither Macca nor Ringo had even played on 'Revolution Number 9', compared its bizarre racket to the equally bizarre racket caught within the grooves of TWO VIRGINS, and laid the blame firmly at the door of Lennon's new bed partner. Not content with hoodwinking poor sap John, the Ono influence had even spilled over into the Beatles' output. And as a twice-divorced older Japanese woman was not at all what the king-makers of Fleet Street and its American counterparts had had in mind as a worth y consort for Beatle John, the xenophobic press unleashed a torrent of sustained racist (and even ageist) abuse at Yoko that finally reached its nadir in an American Esquire magazine article bearing the execrable headline 'John Rennon's Excrusive Gloupie'. In Japan, naturally, Ono's new relationship was rapturously received across the whole of society, and among Japanese women in particular, for Japanese women had traditionally always remained in the background. For a powerful man such as John Lennon to have consciously chosen a Japanese woman as his partner, this was indeed hard evidence of the diminishing gap between these once-radically estranged cultures.
Among Japan's jazz community, the influence of pop music (and the Beatles especially) was, by 1968, redefining jazz musicians' attitudes through their sheer proximity to pop culture. Indeed, the lack of heavyweight rock musicians in Japan had ensured that, by the late '60s, many seasoned jazz rhythm sections were in high demand playing on the pop hits of the day, ensuring that these players remained adaptable and open-minded to the continuous change that the music scene demanded. For example, drummer/arranger Akira Ishikawa had been a professional since way back in the early 1950s and had scored late '50s hits of his own with such LPs as MOOD IN IMMORTAL CLASSIC OF JAPANESE SONGS [sic]. But, despite this, and his long service throughout the early '60s as musical director for Helen Merrill - Tokyo's own Doris Day - it was still to Ishikawa that most producers turned when they required a killer dance beat. Similarly adaptable and even more successful was trumpeter Terumasa Hino, who'd been professional since the mid-'50s by modelling himself on Miles Davis and Freddie Hubbard, but who had even jumped temporarily (and successfully) aboard the early '60s eleki scene with his hit LP TRUMPETS IN BLUE JEANS.
The contributions of such jazz players to Japanese '60s pop music had serious repercussions within their own jazz scene, musicians becoming increasingly aware of the seemingly opposing styles uniting in current pop and digging what they heard. In the two long years since Brian Jones had added his exotic and alien marimba to the Rolling Stones' single 'Under My Thumb', Japanese teenagers had - via the Beatles, the Yardbirds and their own musical genius Terry Terauchi (see Book One, Chapter Three) - become so used to hearing such unlikely instruments as sitars, balalaikas, oboes, shawms and bassoons that the hip young French gypsy violinist Jean-Luc Ponty scored an unlikely hit in Japan with his instrumental LP MORE THAN MEETS THE EAR and its attendant single, a version of the Beatles' 'With a Little Help from My Friends'. Wild and dashingly good-looking, Jean-Luc Ponty was little less than a pop star in Japan, where his more extreme experiments with Germany's Wolfgang Dauner Septet on the LP FREE ACTION, released in summer '67, had soon caught the approving ears of Japanese jazz musicians.
Stuttgart-based Dauner had been inspired in equal measures by the electronic experiments of fellow countryman Karlheinz Stockhausen, the gypsy violin of Stephane Grappelli, and the exotically dissonant Turkish pop of Mavi Isiklar, Cahit Oben and others, whom Dauner heard playing continuously in Stuttgart's large Turkish area. By early November 1966, Dauner had begun to Stockhausen-ise his piano by putting it through ring modulators and other electronic devices to bizarre and sensational effect. Next, Dauner and fellow Stuttgart musician Eberhard Weber began to investigate the Turks' use of quarter- and half-tones in their music, again with excellent results. Indeed, by early '67, Dauner had jettisoned his traditional jazz-trio format, opting instead to build an incredible seven-piece free-jazz ensemble around the hitherto non-jazz instruments violin and cello, now played by Jean-Luc Ponty and Eberhard Weber respectively. Dauner's new septet was completed by bassist Jurgen Karg, percussionist Fred Braceful and the wild free-drumming of the young Mani Neumaier, future leader of Krautrockers Guru Guru. This turn of events, therefore, put Dauner in possession of the kind of heavy bass section unheard even in the later John Coltrane sojourns.
By the end of 1968, Wolfgang Dauner's bold experiments had gained many fans among the Japanese jazz community, including pianists Masahiko Satoh and Masabumi Kikuchi, guitarist Masayuki Takayanagi, trumpeters Takehisa Suzuki and Tetsu Fushimi, drummers Akira Ishikawa and Hiro Tsunoda, and countless others who saw Dauner's moves as a way of reconciling their own experiments with the prevailing 'progressive' moods of the day. By this time, Frank Zappa's fourth release - the bizarre orchestral LP LUMPY GRAVY - had also started to work its curious magic, its vicious combination of musique concrète, redundant surf-guitar themes, bozo spoken word and jarring percussion-fest all conspiring to confirm to the insular Japanese jazz community what Dauner's FREE ACTION had anticipated one year earlier: that there could be a place for all of them in the coming pop free-for-all.
By early 1969, the effects of this unlikely Japanese-German jazz connection united both cultures in their love for the kind of exotic Asian sounds that could never hope to penetrate the overbearing British and American scenes. Japanese traditional instruments such as the three-string shamisen and the sanshin (Japanese banjo) began to be integrated into jazz experiments, just as such instruments as the biwa, koto, and the bamboo sho had, by this time, long informed Japan's post-war classical and experimental music. In the meantime, pianist Masahiko Satoh hooked up with Wolfgang Dauner himself and prepared to record an LP of electrified piano duets, whilst drummer Akira Ishikawa made plans for his first real field trip abroad to record an adventurous percussion-only LP.
For many in the jazz community, however, the biggest shock of '69 came when master guitarist Masayuki Takayanagi made the momentous decision to take the free-jazz route, a resolution that would see his art catapulted into stellar regions whilst his social position would plummet. For Takayanagi it-was to whom other jazz musicians had long turned when they couldn't read a chart, a guitar hero whose name had, seemingly for ever, graced the number-one spot in the annual polls of Japan's jazz bible The Swing Journal, whose face was well known from his regular TV performances on the late show 11pm, whose New Artist Organization had been formed specifically to encourage young jazz players and whose published musical the9ries had made him a universally trusted brother figure. But here in the upheaval of 1969, Takayanagi now dumped his bossa-nova band and struck out with all the abandon of Albert Ayler's fiercest experiments. Within months, even Takayanagi's free-jazz ensemble was haemorrhaging members at the rate of one a week, as the guitarist strove to locate new musicians vital enough to replicate what he heard in his newly mushed brain... feedback, feedback and more feedback... And which of the great free-jazzers had precipitated this sea change within our stalwart veteran of the jazz community? 'Trane? Ayler? Why, none of the above actually. Takayanagi's change of heart had come about whilst putting on side three of the new double-LP CHICAGO TRANSIT AUTHORITY, by future AOR kings Chicago. It sounds positively daft now, but the late '60s electronic jazz-based experiments of the Electric Flag begat Chicago and Blood, Sweat & Tears too. On hearing Chicago guitarist Terry Kath's seven freak-out minutes of 'Free Form Guitar', Masayuki Takayanagi saw the future and the future was both distorted and extremely a-rhythmical.
It's fair to say, however, that guitar feedback was a standard rock'n'roll obsession in the spring of 1969. Indeed, the May release of John & Yoko's UNFINISHED MUSIC NUMBER 2: LIFE WITH THE LIONS superseded the ugliness of the loving couple's first collaboration by bringing forth a stunning and unyielding blitz of free-rock feedback guitar and accompanying holler. Furthermore, the harsh levels of Chicago-ian guitar feedback that Masayuki Takayanagi had sought out so specifically also lay right at the rock'n'roll heart of Toshi Ichiyanagi's newest composition - an experimental opera no less - as the work inspired by his New York revelations at the home of Tadanori Yoko'o and at the Bell Armoury Show, two years previously, finally came to fruition that spring. Ichiyanagi's meeting with Yoko'o had forced the composer to 'update his music and stop hiding in the abstract', as Yoko'o himself would later describe it. In order to free himself from the classical sound system, Ichiyanagi had first composed a piece entitled 'Orchestral Space', which he performed at Tokyo's Second Modern Music Festival with the aid of Yuya Utchida's maverick new psychedelic rock'n'roll group the Flowers. Propelled by a caterwauling barrage of whooping stratospheric feedback courtesy of steel-guitarist Katsuhiko Kobayashi, the Flowers' sound summoned up the same wayward spirits as Californian band the Misunderstood, led by Glenn Ross Campbell. Together with Tadanori Yoko'o himself and soundtrack composer Toru Takemitsu, Ichiyanagi also created a bizarre TV work entitled 'The Third Trend', in which clowns, circus carnies and samurai all appeared together in a veritable spoof of psychedelic culture. But Ichiyanagi's real piece de resistance was a vast multi-disciplinary work that he had been labouring over since the halcyon hallucinations back in the New York apartment of Tadanori Yoko'o. Now entitled OPERA INSPIRED BY THE WORKS OF TADANORI YOKO'O, Ichiyanagi's new work combined orchestral scores, spoken-word pieces, musique concrète and free-form suites of heavy rock'n'roll. Housed in an art-house twelve-in ch-square box printed with the most famous examples of Yoko'o artwork, the so-called opera was pressed on to two incredible picture discs, and came with accompanying playing cards bearing further Yoko'o designs.
Still on a considerable high, Ichiyanagi next instigated the 'Crosstalk/Intermedia' show at Tokyo's Yoyogi Gymnasium, an event he had long dreamed of curating. Determined to bring to Japan some of the same visionary spirit that Ichiyanagi had witnessed at Bill Kluver's Bell Armoury Show, two years previously, the composer's 'Crosstalk/Intermedia' event was another of 1969's cultural highs, being both a place for performance art by old friends such as Group Ongaku's Takehisa Kosugi, and also an opportunity to allow 'artists to interact and co-operate with technology-related people to put on all-inclusive performances of modern art'. 
And so, in a bizarre turn of fate, 1969 saw in Japan the coming-together of umpteen unlikely strands of popular culture, as the Far East finally met the West via John and Yoko, via John Cage, via Toshi Ichiyanagi and Yuya Utchida, via Karlheinz Stockhausen... oh, and via the unlikely 'tribal love musical' Hair! For, in the midst of this flurry of underground, experimental and jazz activity and visionary conceptualising, the news came through of the imminent arrival in Japan of the hippie musical. By early 1969, Hair had already become a worldwide phenomenon, upsetting the straight community with its nudity and drug references, and even getting itself banned in such places as New Zealand and Mexico. The musical's influence on Japanese culture was felt even more immediately, however. For Hair's Japanese producers made it quite clear that it was from the jazz community that they were going to make their first choices for the heavyweight musical ensemble that would, every night, perform Hair's hit soundtrack. While Masahiko Satoh was adamant that his experiments with Wolfgang Dauner should remain in place, most others buckled. That Hair - the epitome of pop culture - should get to be played by a mainly jazz band was like a dream come true. And so it was that, of Hair's nine-piece ensemble, seven were invited from the jazz community and the leader was to be none other than drummer Akira Ishikawa himself. His free-jazz experimental percussion LP would have to wait!