TOKYO — The Beatles were prisoners of love during their four-day stay in Japan.
The love came from thousands of well-meaning Japanese fans who flocked to their concerts and teen-agers who "stood guard" almost around the clock at the Tokyo Hilton Hotel, where the Liverpool lads were virtual captives.
Little Japanese girls in middy blouses stood in parking lots a the rear of the hotel (but the Beatles' sumptuous suite faced the other way), peering through binoculars, jumping up and down and screaming whenever a male guest happened to appear at a window.
Before it was over the four Beatles, sporting hats and sunglasses, made at least one abortive attempt to escape their 10th-floor cell and see Tokyo. (One of them reportedly made it, but there are conflicting reports as to whether he did or didn't,) Japanese police insisted the Beatles remain in the hotel rather than risk teen-age rioting over them in the streets.
The only time they were allowed out of the Hilton was when they roared away daily in a pink Cadillac to do their shows at Tokyo's Budokan Hall. Then police-car sirens and the screams of fans who had waited for hours just to get a glimpse of them rang in their ears.
But they shouldn't feel too bad about it all. It would have taken Batman, the Shadow or the slickest cat burglar of the century to slip away from the security-conscious Japanese police, who were bulldog determined that all the Beatles would leave Japan in one piece.
When the Beatles weren't performing they just sat around their suite, listening to rock 'n' roll music (not their own) and turning out abstract drawings, most of which went into wastepaper baskets to be fought over by frenzied room maids.
On one sunny day before heading for the Budokan, the boys were found lounging around their 10th-floor digs wearing sport shirts and tight-fitting, stovepipe-type trousers.
Ringo Starr was perched on the window sill, staring moodily out the window. John Lennon, the intellectual book-writer in the group, was fiddling with the controls of the rock 'n' roll-blaring record player.
Paul McCartney was sitting off in one corner, and George Harrison, wearing a pair of tinted, Ben Franklin-type glasses, was tapping his foot to the music. Whenever a question was asked, Lennon would turn off the record player, answer, and then turn it on again.
Since the music section in the current Time magazine was mostly devoted to the recent trend toward blue lyrics in rock 'n' roll songs, and two of the Beatles' latest records (''Norwegian Wood" and "Day Tripper") were cited as being somewhat less than wholesome, it was quite natural to wonder how they felt about the whole thing.
Said Time: "One of their (the Beatles') recent releases, 'Norwegian Wood,' has been interpreted by some as the tale of a man trying to seduce a lesbian. Another, 'Day Tripper,' can be interpreted as the lament of a man who finds out that his girl is a prostitute ..."
It turned out that the Beatles hadn't seen the Time story. So they all gathered around, read the paragraph devoted to them and then skipped back to read the entire article from beginning to end.
Said Ringo, laughing: "That's, great!" Said Brian Epstein, the Beatles' youthful and extremely sharp manager: "Most interesting," Said John Lennon: "Our fans don't read Time magazine anyway."
Then, in a more serious vein, Lennon added, "Psychologists have tried to analyze our music. I don't know why. There's no hidden meaning in our lyrics ... We just write music."
The Beatles left Tokyo Sunday for Manila where they will give two performances Monday.