Yoko as an infant

Yoko Ono was born 8:30 AM Tokyo time on a snowy Feburary 18, 1933, to Eisuke Ono and Isoko Yasuda Ono. Her father had left six weeks before her birth, his job at the Tokyo Specie Bank having transferred him to their San Francisco office. Isoko's pregnancy was to close to term for such a long journey.
Yoko at about 18 months

On the way to the US

In August 1935, when Yoko was 2 1/2 she and Isoko joined Eisuke in San Francisco.

When Yoko was five she returned to Japan with her mother and younger brother Keisuke who was born in December of 1936.

Yoko attended kindergarten and first grade in Japan.

In early 1940 Isoko, Yoko and Keisuke rejoined Eisuke in the US. Now in Scarsdale, NY. Yoko attended public school there. A sister Setsuko was born in early October 1941. Because of growing anti Japanese feeling the whole family returned to Japan in November 1941. One month later the war between the US and Japan started. Yoko's father was transfered to the Hanoi branch of his bank. The rest of the family remained in Japan for safety.

After the June 1942 Doolittle raid on Tokyo, Isoko sent Yoko and her younger siblings to the countryside for safety with a couple of family servants. But the servants soon abandoned the children, and 9 year old Yoko had to take responsibility for her 6 year old brother and 1 year sister. Yoko and her siblings were left in that situation until their father returned to Japan in November 1945. Yoko has stated that her ideas about concept art stem from this time, when she and her brother starving would imagine foods that they had eaten before the war.

Yoko as a teenager studied philosphy and music theory. She also took class in western opera music. She was asked by a teacher to join a local opera group but turned him down because she wished to sing her own compositions more.

In late December of 1951 Yoko returned to Scarsdale, NY with her parents and siblings. In the spring of 1953 Yoko entered Sarah Lawerence college majoring in music theory. But she soon grew bored with the finishing school atmosphere it had at the time and began to seek knowledge outside of the college.

At Julliard University she met another Japanese born student who wanted to break free from university trained musicianship. The man who would become her first husband Toshi Ichiyangi. Yoko's parents, despite their artistic inclinations (Yoko's father was a trained pianist and had wished to become a concert pianist but gave it up and became a banker so he could marry for love, and Isoko painted and played several Japanese instruments.) disowned Yoko when she married Toshi. Toshi and Yoko became part of the New York art scene of the 1950's, associating themselves with artists like John Cage.

In the late 1950's Yoko and Toshi began to do their own events. Yoko staged a series of now famous loft concerts. They were also early members of the avante-garde art association called Fluxus. Toshi would end his connection to them after a few years, but Yoko kept her ties to them.

In November of 1961 Yoko and Toshi seperated. Toshi returned to Japan and continued his career there. In March of 1962 Yoko returned to Japan. She stayed for two years and did art show there, connecting with the avante-garde scene in Japan. While there Toshi introduced Yoko to the man who would become her second husband Anthony Cox. Anthony had followed Yoko from the US to Japan because he was a big fan of hers. Yoko was touched by this and they married in November of 1962.

On August 8, 1963 Kyoko Cox was born.

Yoko returned to the US in September 1964.

She continued with her art career. Gradually becoming well known in the art world.

In early September 1966 Yoko was invited to London for the Destruction in Art Symposium. (DIAS). After DIAS ended she continued to do other art shows in London. While preparing for her art show at Indica Gallery on November 9, 1966,she met the love of her life, John Lennon. The attraction was immediate for both, but remained an intense friendship only until mid May 1968. They were married on March 20, 1969.

In the fall of 1967, Yoko and John had their first artistic collaborations. Yoko's art exhibition called Half A Wind Show.

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1997 keri@louisville.lib.ky.us


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