【The Tree of Life】 Inside the Tower of the Sun and the Expo ’70 Pavilion


I am interested in “contemporary art,” which I feel intuitively without thinking, and I have been exposed to many works of art.

My favorite contemporary artists include Taro Okamoto, Isamu Noguchi, and Salvador Dali.

This time, I’m going to write about my impressions of visiting the Tower of the Sun and the Expo Pavilion at Expo ’70 Commemorative Park in Osaka!


What is the Osaka Expo?

This international exposition was held for 183 days from March 15 to September 13, 1970, in the Senri Hills of Suita City, Osaka Prefecture.

It was the first international exposition in Asia and the first in Japan, and boasted the largest scale in history at the time.

https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Japan World Exposition

The Tower of the Sun is a huge structure designed by Taro Okamoto, who was the leader of the monuments for the Expo.

I first saw the Tower of the Sun in “20th Century Boys,” which I read when I was in elementary school, and was astonished by its hideous design.

The interior of the Tower of the Sun, the Tree of Life, was closed to visitors for a long time, but after repairs, it has been open to the public since 2018.

Sun Tower Access

Expo Park, where the Tower of the Sun is located, is quite far from downtown Osaka, and it took us about 50 minutes to get there from Nihonbashi.

It took us about 50 minutes to get there from Nihonbashi, probably because we had to change to the monorail on the way.

The tower could be seen from the Yamada monorail stop.

When you get off the monorail at “Expo Park”, you can see a shopping mall in front of you.

If you turn left instead of going that way, you will see the entrance to the Japanese Garden, the Nature Park where the Tower of the Sun is located.

After paying the admission fee (260 yen for adults), you will see the Tower of the Sun in front of you.

To be honest, the Tower of the Sun was a bit smaller than I had imagined.

However, after I learned about its overwhelming presence and Taro Okamoto’s message behind it, it looked much bigger.

When you go around the back of the Tower of the Sun, there is a ramp that leads you down to the basement.

I thought there would be a line of people waiting to get in, but there was no line at all.

Tower of the Sun Exhibition

You can enter the Tower of the Sun by scanning the QR code that appears from the URL attached to the email that completes your reservation.

Same-day tickets are also available, but they seem to be selling out fast!

You will be instructed to put everything away in your bag, except for those related to the shooting.

As soon as you enter the entrance, you will see a rough sketch of the Tower of the Sun by Taro Okamoto.

As you walk down the corridor, you can see the process of how the Tower of the Sun took its current form in chronological order.

Early plan of tower of the sun

“Inori” reproduction zone

Taro Okamoto’s work at the Osaka Expo was not limited to the famous Tower of the Sun, but was divided into three themed exhibits.

There is a space that recreates Inori, one of the exhibits that used to be in the basement of the Tower of the Sun at the Osaka Expo.

Surrounded by various masks from around the world, the “Sun of the Underground” has an overwhelming presence.

This sun went missing after the Expo, and what is on display is a recreated replica.

On the screen behind us, there were several kinds of images from that time, but if children saw them, they would be traumatized…

(Like the one with the bright red hands covering the screen)

I would have liked to have seen the exhibits from that time, “Life,” “People,” and “Inori!”

Tree of Life

When we were looking at the “Life” reproduction space, we were grouped into groups of 20 and taken to the place where the Tree of Life is located.

You can only take pictures of the inside of the Tree of Life from the bottom because you can only take pictures of the first floor, but I wonder if you can feel the power.

As you climb the stairs, you can see the Tree of Life towering above you, tracing the process of evolution.

I think the reason for taking photos here is to prevent injuries and damage to the exhibits from falling rather than copyright.

The idea of seeing the evolution of life as you climb up a spiral staircase, and making it inside the Tower of the Sun is wonderful.

The gorilla at the end of the exhibit is in an unrestored state to give visitors a sense of the history of the Expo.

The guide told us that it originally had the movement of shaking its head.

After seeing the two arms that were once usable, we took another staircase back to the ground.

On the way back, there were panels on the wall that told the story of how it was made, so we were never bored on the way back.

The words that made so much sense to me as I watched were, “Art is witchcraft.”

Art is not absolutely necessary in human life activities, and no one but humans can understand art.

When I think of the fact that it was born out of a wish for a good harvest, to pray for rain, to cure diseases, etc., I am convinced that only humans could have had access to art.

Impressions of “Tower of the Sun”

Taro Okamoto’s works are very eccentric and convey a message to us in an instant when we see them.

Each person has his or her own way of receiving the message, but I think he is an outstanding artist because of his strong will.

In a society that is mainly based on textual information, I thought it was important to have such works that give a strong message.

I believe that Taro Okamoto’s works can be conveyed without knowing the background of the artist or what each piece implies.

In this respect, the Osaka Expo may have been the perfect opportunity to send a message to people with different languages and cultures.

Osaka Expo Pavilion

Since it was Expo ’70 Commemorative Park, I figured there must be a memorial hall that recreates what it was like back then, so I looked for it!

I went to the pavilion in the Japanese Garden and the Nature Park, which are located on the same site.

The fee was a very reasonable 210 yen for adults.

It made me realize more that I am from a generation that doesn’t know the time when the Tower of the Sun was covered by a roof…

The exhibits were quite extensive, and I was able to follow the history of the Expo along with the displays.

There was a card that summarized the features of the Osaka Expo pavilions, which made me wish I could have been there.

I was surprised to see that there was even an amusement park in the Expo Park.

Maybe it’s because I’m nostalgic that people’s faces back then seem to glow even more than they do today…

Impressions of visiting Expo’70 Commemorative Park

Longing for the past and regret

My first impression was creepy, then I thought, “How dare they allow this to be a monument for the world to see?

Kudos to the bigwigs for giving the go-ahead to “The Origin of Life,” which seemed to go against the grain of “progress and harmony.

I think people were hopeful about the future and eagerly awaited the day when the exhibits in each pavilion would actually be realized.

Our predecessors, who had made this historic event a success, reminisced about their memories as they looked at the exhibits.

I felt very disappointed that I could not be there to see these adults, and I cried while looking at the exhibit.

Ahead of the Tokyo Olympics

Until now, I have not been able to pay much attention to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

  • Suspicions about the exchange of money associated with the bid
  • The plagiarism issue in the decision of the emblem
  • The competition for the national stadium was scrapped
  • Water pollution and high school volunteers
  • We thought it would be fine as long as it didn’t turn out to be a disaster.

However, the generation above us managed to pull off the Osaka Expo without any major problems.

The reason we can look back on the Expo with envy is because of the people who worked behind the scenes to support the event.

Police officers, firefighters, medical personnel, computer operators, visitors’ guides, midnight cleaners, garbage disposal workers, etc.

Our generation will play a part in the Tokyo Olympics this time.

If you are a young person with no hope for the future, why don’t you visit Expo Park and get a taste of the glorious days of the past?

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