The tour

George Harrison’s Japanese concerts took place at six venues: Yokohama Arena on 1 December; Osaka Castle Hall, 2 and 3 December; International Exhibition Center, Nagoya, 5 December; Sun Plaza Hall, Hiroshima, 6 December; Kokusai International Center Hall, Fukuoka, 9 December; Osaka Castle Hall, 10, 11 and 12 December; and the Tokyo Dome on 14, 15 and 17 December.

The setlist began with a set of Harrison’s songs, typically followed by a shorter four-song set by Clapton, before Harrison finished with several more songs. The encores were ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ and ‘Roll Over Beethoven’.

During the tour Harrison used a Roy Buchanan Bluesmaster electric guitar No. 6, Gibson J-200 custom acoustic guitar, gold Fender 12-string electric guitar, red Fender Stratocaster Eric Clapton model, and a Gibson Les Paul Standard ’60.

All George has got to do, essentially, is walk out on stage and strum an acoustic guitar and we’ll do everything else. There’s nothing for him to worry about. I put the idea to him and he was delighted and scared at the same time. He was really scared to death. He changed his mind about five different times.
Eric Clapton
Rolling Stone

On 17 December, the final tour date, Harrison’s son Dhani joined the band on stage for the encores, as did Nick Roylance, the son of Genesis Publications owner Brian Roylance.

The following day Harrison and his family flew from New Tokyo International Airport back to England. CNN ran a report on the tour’s success, claiming that it grossed £9.7 million. The report included an interview in which Harrison was asked why he went back on the road: “I had to do something when I gave up smoking!”

On 6 April Harrison performed with Clapton’s band at London’s Royal Albert Hall, in support of the Natural Law Party. It was promoted as “George’s First UK Show Since Leaving The Beatles”, and contained a set largely the same as the Japan concerts.

The recordings

The producer credit for Live In Japan was “Spike and Nelson Wilbury”. This was, in fact, Harrison, utilising his respective pseudonyms on The Traveling Wilburys’ Volume 3 and Volume 1.

Live In Japan contained 19 tracks, ten of which were recorded at the Tokyo Dome on 15 December: ‘I Want To Tell You’, ‘Taxman’, ‘Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)’, ‘Piggies’, ‘Got My Mind Set On You’, ‘All Those Years Ago’, ‘Cheer Down’, ‘Devil’s Radio’, ‘Isn’t It A Pity’, and ‘Roll Over Beethoven’.

‘If I Needed Someone’ and ‘Dark Horse’ were recorded at the Osaka Castle Hall on 11 December, while ‘Something’ and ‘Cloud 9’ were from the following night’s show at the same venue.

‘My Sweet Lord’ was the only full recording from the Tokyo Dome show on 14 December. ‘Old Brown Shoe’ and ‘What Is Life’ were taped at the same venue’s concert three nights later.

‘Here Comes The Sun’ was an edit of recordings made on 12 and 17 December, and ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ was recorded on 14 and 17 December.

The release

Live In Japan was released on 13 July 1992 in the United Kingdom, and the following day in North America.

The album did not chart in the UK, and peaked at number 126 on the Billboard 200. In Japan it reached number 15 on the Oricon chart.

Live In Japan was out of print for some years until it was remastered and reissued on 23 February 2004, separately and as part of the box set The Dark Horse Years 1976–1992

The reissue was on the SACD format, and included a 5.1 surround sound mix alongside the original, and a 12-page booklet with expanded artwork and full lyrics, with commentary partially adapted from Harrison’s autobiography I Me Mine.