Osaka’s Exhibition from the World Expo of 1970 Will Leave You in Awe
It's amazing from top to bottom!
The Tower of the Sun
1-1, Senri Expo Commemoration Park, Suita City, Osaka
Open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, except on Wednesdays.
How to get there: It’s a 5-minute walk from Osaka Monorail Bampaku-kinen-koen station
The Tower of the Sun was built for the Japan World Exposition of 1970, and since then it has been considered the symbol of Osaka. After the World Expo, visitors were not allowed to visit because restoration work needed to be done on it. After 48 years, however, it is finally redone and the interior of the Tower is now a permanent exhibition.
The Sun of the Underworld part of the exhibit was reported missing after Expo ‘70, but it has since been remade and exhibited. The Tree of Life, which has models of various creatures, is also in exhibit. And in order to feel the drama of the space, background music entitled the Hymn of Life plays as you go around. The creator, Taro Okamoto, wanted to express the energy of life in the Tower of the Sun.
Of course, the waiting list for such a place is remarkable, so you need to book in advance on the exhibition’s website. You can apply for sometime within the next four months, but that doesn’t guarantee a reservation! The admission fee for the exhibit is ¥700 for adults, with an additional ¥250 charge for entry to the park.
The Tree of Life is a collection of five colored trees representing five continents.
The Tower of the Sun consists of two different zones. The first zone is in the basement, which exhibits the Sun of the Underworld. This beckons attention to the world of the Expo. The second zone is upstairs, where you can appreciate the restored Tree of Life.
The passage at the back of the Tower leads to the reception area at the basement.
The Sun of the Underworld in its recreated glory plays the role of the prologue to the rest of the exhibit.
What took the reconstruction so long? After the Sun of the Underworld was reported missing, they couldn’t set to rebuilding it immediately because a detailed plan of how the piece was constructed was not kept. They only managed to reconstruct the piece using the pictures taken at the time. Luckily, they were able to do this. The golden mask is 3 meters across, and 11 meters wide. In this first zone, you can feel what the World Expo was like 48 years ago, as that space was used for the ceremonies. Then, at that time, it was surrounded by masks and statues from all over the world.
The appearance of Sun of the Underworld changes with projection mapping.
Sun of the Underworld in 1970 Expo.
Some of the exhibit may surprise you because of the amount of details put in them. Check out the elaborate structure of the steel frame and the “arms” that connect the top corridor of the tower! You can even trace how the tower was completed with the panels displayed on the stairs.
The cherry blossom, which was a symbol of EXPO 70, remains on the steel frame.
In the 1970 exhibition, an escalator could be found through the right arm, while the left arm was an emergency staircase.
Although entrance to the original stairway is restricted, you can still feel the fantastic atmosphere by going up the spiral staircase that surrounds the Tree of Life.
The mid slope of the tower makes you feel as if the creature is going to approach you.
The scenery from above the tree is also bizarre and excellent.
The highest floor of the tower has the “Space of Sun” which represents the infinite sky.
The Tree of Life is another exhibit that depicts the origin of life. It rises to the top of the tower at 41 meters tall, and is fitted with models of 183 creatures from 33 species - ranging from protist to human in order to capture the energy of life. The five colored trees represent five continents.
The Tree of Life depicts the evolution of humans.
A giant red jellyfish represents the era of the protist, with a clear scene involving heliozoans.
This is another model featuring the era of the protist; the amoeba is a unicellular protist without a flagellum and is moved around by pseudopods.
The trilobite era features model trilobites - arthropods living in the sea, and are among the most prosperous creatures on earth at the time.
The Nautilus is famous as a living fossil that remained unchanged since the era of trilobite.
A model of the Bothriolepis during the era of fish, when some primitive fish like the Ostracoderm protected its body with a form of armor.
The Brontosaurus is a giant, plant-eating dinosaur that thrived during the era of reptiles.
The Pteranodon is a pterosaur characterized with a cockscomb, also from the era of reptiles.
The Cryptoclidus is a plesiosaur from the mid-Jurassic period, who hunted for fish with their sharp teeth during the era of amphibia.
The gorilla model for the era of mammal remains the same as it was 48 years ago. They did not repair the rotten part intentionally to make visitors feel the passage of time.
The Neanderthal (also from the era of mammal) is closely related as a species to modern human beings.
Fun Facts about the Tower:
A black sun marks the back of the tower.
Why does it have 3 faces? What meaning does each face have?
The Face of the Sun at the center of the tower represents the present. The Golden Mask at the top of the tower represents the future. The black sun at the back of tower represents the past. The whole tower represents the energy of all things penetrating the past, present, and future. It also represents the center of life and the festival.
The tower “broke through” the grand roof as if it is looking down at the site of the expo.
Why has the tower remained while the other buildings were removed?
They wanted to remove the tower after the Expo. However, their decision was reversed through the call of creator Taro Okamoto and a petition against its removal.
The whole tower represents past, present, and future.
What kind of message did creator Taro Okamoto want to impart through the tower?
The tower depicts the energy of life blowing upwards, towards the future. The creatures are exhibited from protozoan to mammal, beginning from the bottom to the top. However, it doesn’t mean that these are “lesser” or inferior creatures, and human beings are the best. Rather, it reminds human beings to look back on the origin of life.
Provided by Japan Walker™ and Kansai Walker™ (3 April 2018)