Fans Mourn Closing Of Tokyo Tower Rock 'n' Roll Wax Museum










Fans mourn closing of Tokyo Tower rock 'n' roll wax museumIn the summer of 1966, 13-year-old Gen Fujita's father took him to Nippon Budokan to hear the first concert by a Western rock 'n' roll band at the traditional Japanese martial arts venue.

Not just any concert, either--Fujita saw four mop-topped lads from Liverpool who called themselves The Beatles.

So began a lifelong love affair with rock 'n' roll, which would lead Fujita to manage the Tokyo Tower Wax Museum, which has attracted worldwide attention for its eclectic display of wax-figure rock musicians.

Now, the final curtain is set to fall on the museum on Sept. 1, as Tokyo Tower is slated for a major overhaul.

The wax museum does feature historical figures such as Winston Churchill and Mao Tse-tung, but in one cramped corner a line of rockers are on display while quirky electronic music plays in the background.

The selection of wax figures reflects Fujita's progressive tastes in music.

"Rock is my life," says Fujita, whose regular day job is president of a company that imports clothing and other goods.

About 30 figures, or 40 percent of the museum's total, are of musicians with cult followings, such as Frank Zappa.

"When I decided to show off my tastes by displaying the Zappa figure, the museum attracted attention from foreign visitors," Fujita says.

Fujita went on to increase the number of musicians on display. Each wax figure costs about 2 million yen ($20,000).

Now 60, Fujita has been managing the wax museum since 1988. After the Tokyo Tower Wax Museum opened in 1970, it was acquired by Fujita's father, Den Fujita, who also established McDonald's Japan.

Fujita says that real-life musicians and their family members have visited the wax museum during trips to Japan. Being moved by the adulation they have been given, they have donated personal accessories to the museum, further enhancing the attraction for fans who follow such details with great interest.

Because of the large number of fans who have expressed disappointment at the closure of the Tokyo Tower Wax Museum, plans have already been drawn up to open Japan's first rock 'n' roll museum in Tokyo by the end of the year. Fujita's wax rockers and valuable documents will be displayed at the new facility.

Fujita also says his hobby is a good business opportunity.

"I am importing culture," he says.

AJW