It was 50 years ago today -- more or less. In late June 1966, the Beatles landed in Tokyo to play five concerts at the Budokan, the home of Japanese martial arts. Two months later, they stopped touring entirely. That November, they recorded the groundbreaking "Strawberry Fields Forever."
If the Beatles were moving fast, so was Japan. Like China today, it was at the tail end of a turbocharged period of economic growth that had generated massive urbanization and a vibrant consumer culture. The population was young and thirsty for the latest overseas trends, while the student movement was becoming increasingly militant.