When Led Zeppelin arrived in Japan for a 1971 tour less than two months before the release of their fourth album, it was a time of great excitement for the band and for rock ’n’ roll in the land of the rising sun. Zep was one of the first big Western groups to visit, and the lads were welcomed with open arms during their five-gig stint—the more so after their September 27 benefit show for victims at Hiroshima. The city’s mayor even bestowed on the band an honorary medal, leading the ever introspective Jimmy Page to ponder: “It made me think long and hard about the concept of war and its concentrated horror.”
With its reputation for gracious hosting, a hip and young population, and number of large cities, Japan may be the ideal location for any band’s foreign tour. And if you were a visiting rock star in the 1970s or 80s, there’s a good chance your publicist would have scheduled you for a photo shoot with local photographer Koh Hasebe. Hasebe worked for Japanese music publisher Shinko Music and, starting with the Beatles in 1965, he photographed just about every major musician to visit Japan. “It was just as Western artists began to visit Japan, and I somehow became the go-to guy to document tours,” Hasebe recalled in a 2015 Rolling Stone interview.