Karuizawa is an old summer resort in Japan very much like the Hamptons except it’s in the mountains. There is a coffee house in a pine forest near Karuizawa. John & I fell in love with the place, and found ourselves going there almost every day with Sean. To get there, you had to go cycling for about 30 minutes from the town of Karuizawa. But we loved going there. There was a big hammock in the backyard, and John, Sean and I used to spend the afternoon lying in it, giggling, singing, and watching the sky.

After John’s passing, five years from the time we were last there together, I visited the coffee shop again. It was as if time had stood still. There was the same stillness in the shop with only a few people sitting around. The scent of pine and aroma of good coffee was in the air. I had a cup of coffee and left. The owner came running after me and handed me a lighter. “Your husband left this the last time he was here,” he said. I looked at him and the lighter. “I’d like to return this to you.” I lit the lighter. The flame shot up, like it was alive. Then I remembered the day that John had left the lighter at the coffee house.

The three of us went there to spend the afternoon as usual. Right in the middle of our bike ride home, John remembered that he had left the lighter at the coffee house. I was going fast on my bike. He was shouting something to me from behind. “What?” I shouted. “I left me lighter at the coffee house!” John shouted back. “The one I bought yesterday!” I knew he liked that one. I slowed down and turned my head around. “Shall we go back to get it?” I asked. “Yeah, let’s,” he said. Then he changed his mind “Oh, never mind. I’ll get it tomorrow when we’re there,” he said.

But tomorrow never came. The rainy season started the next day. It rained cats and dogs for several days without stopping.

Karuizawa was not fun when that started. John just sat in the hotel room and made collages. Then we packed and left for Tokyo, then home to N.Y.

We got busy with other things and, as fate would have it, we never went back there again. I was left with the lighter.

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” JL


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21 Responses to The Lighter by Yoko Ono

  1. mirco says:

    did you get the lighter when you went back after all those years? storys like that keep the memories alive. what a footprint this man left for all of us!! thanks yoko

  2. RANDY PITT says:

    Yoko and all the things you say and do are like a rainbow with the tears and the smile coming through, the rainbow filling our life and yes we are so lucky to have your life, busy as a bee i see , love the work of arts you share , the flowers bloom and never goes away.

  3. Boris says:

    Even one small lighter can destroy the infinite darkness of the entire night.

    Even one happy memory can destroy the infinite sadness of the past.

  4. BIA says:

    Hi Yoko!!!

    Special moments of coexistence with those who love is priceless, it is invaluable, that’s worth a life, so it’s important we value the people we love, every minute is precious. Very beautiful and touching his story.

    ✿✿✿ Many flowers for you!!!✿✿✿

    Have a happy weekend!!! 🙂

    i ii iii



    Oh my God, beautiful LOVE story. John and YOKO always on my mind. I LOVE YOU both and of course Sean and Julian.


  6. Debra says:

    Dear Yoko,

    Thank you so much for sharing this part (and many parts) of your life with all of us. That’s what I love so much about you, you are a giver! The person who gave you back the lighter was also a giver. 1980 was a terrible year for me too, as I lost my mother May 23 of that year; 4 days before my 15th birthday. It was very quick and unexpected. It has been 30 years now and I can still feel her at times. I often wonder what an adult relationship would have been like with her. I’m so happy you are here in this world with us, Yoko. You make it a better place.

    Debra Slattery

    • Yoko Ono says:

      Dear Debra,
      I understand so well what you are saying. It’s very hard to lose somebody who has been so dear to you, isn’t it? I still feel strange that John is not here with me physically. But it’s very important that we move on.
      Have a great future!
      Love, yoko

      • Debra says:

        Dear Yoko,

        I knew you would understand and thank you so much for stressing the importance of moving on with your life as it really is important. I am blessed with a family of my own now and teach them that life is precious and we can be taken from this earth in an instant, so always express love while we are here. Peace and Love to you!

        Love, Debra

  7. Yoko,
    That was a wonderful memory you shared… Thank you! (love the picture of John and Sean).

  8. dear yoko…so sorry for what happened to john he worked so hard to get the message out to love our brothers and sisters and i do. I was only 11 years old when john & you became one in love i always thought you were so cool to marry john and he marry you: he was my favorite “beatle” with his sexy voice. now that i am 51 your art and his music mean so much more then when i was the way my mother would say back then the thoes two are crazy i like paul better… is it because paul did not show people his true feelings for fear of what people might say….the world and myself will always miss john and his work; all of our hearts broke when that dark came. thank you for keeping love alive. love susan

  9. I can imagine this story brings light so many. We can never tell what’s the meaning of some little accident in our life. Some may draw long lines to the future, some just vanishes without leaving a trace. Thanks for sharing this line.

  10. Thanks for sharing “the Lighter”. In fact, thanks for this site: it’s some kind of piece of peace to me in the midle of this crazy world we’re living. All the answers of my heart seems like the answers of ypur heart, Yoko and the all heart’s people too: yoohooooo, I’m not alone! And I’m here for you too and for all who needs me.
    and I love the Smile project – I’m in.

  11. TDSART says:

    Dear Yoko: After thinking about it so much as I have, after reading ‘The Lighter’, – I truly want to say; need to say, it is written as to be visualized…I found myself feeling as if I had witnessed it all…That lighter sitting aside, through a measure of time, with it’s purpose to brighten your eyes, even before you lit it’s flame alive once more… So, how can I presume to know how others feel?
    I died a little more than 3 years ago…The doctors told my 2 sons, there was really no hope.But the sorrows of my sons, was sufficient to call me back;to live a life of learning to love, – to show others, the veil is thin, – between time and forever…
    Dear Yoko: Thank you for being strong, and for being kind…Thank you for your story, which wouldn’t leave me alone……. Love, Thomas

  12. chanmoss says:

    wow, what a lesson and what a gift..

  13. jntquigley says:

    It is the little, sweet things that make us smile and make us feel alive. Thank goodness for these beautiful memories. Yoko, it means a lot that you share these moments with us. I have always loved your family.

  14. magic moment.
    the life kissing to our faces.

    the words of J.L. genius

  15. dollsandtea says:

    Such a simple, yet beautiful moment in time for you, John and Sean, and that flame of the lighter still flares strong and brightly. I bet John would be so proud of you too. Thank you very much for sharing this.

    Love, Mary.

  16. tilemuralist says:

    I love this story and can relate to having a piece of someone come back to you after they’ve been gone.
    While I was working on a book about my late sister Karen’s artwork, I came across some of her sources of inspiration in an envelope. One source for a sculpture she did was a black and white ad of an infant crying. It had Karen’s clay fingerprints on it. It gave me wave of warmth through my body to touch that piece of paper, and felt almost like I could feel the warmth of her hands just by holding that piece of paper.
    It touches you deep in your soul.

  17. bubbledreams says:

    It is wonderful how a moment of time can be recreated in our minds, by a lighter, a smell, or taste or perhaps a sight. A snap shot in time, seemingly mundane at that moment may come back to us and warm our souls.Thank you for sharin yourself with us all.

  18. rise.keller says:

    Thank you for sharing this story of yourselves. It is funny how things go, isn’t it? Much love and I will send you a smile for your smile film project. Love, Rise:

  19. joydbird says:

    The simplest of moments resound most deeply Yoko – thank you for sharing.

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