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Symbol of the Expo '70 Osaka, "Tower of the Sun".Visit to the "Tree of Life," the "bloodstream" of the tower that has been regenerated for the first time in about half a century.


The Tower of the Sun by artist OKAMOTO Taro (1911-1996), located in the Expo '70 Commemorative Park in Suita, Osaka, Japan Many people think of it as the symbolic tower of the 1970 Japan World Exposition (Osaka Expo '70).At the time, the Tower of the Sun was conceived as part of a 'theme pavilion', of which OKAMOTO Taro was the producer. After the closing of Expo '70 Osaka, the interior exhibition space was closed to the public in principle, but in 2018, for the first time in half a century, the interior is now open to visitors. What was Okamoto Taro's message for the Tower of the Sun?





The Tower of the Sun had a strong impact on the 1970 Osaka Expo.Three faces, representing the present, past and future.

The Tower of the Sun, standing tall in Expo '70 Commemorative Park, is approximately 70 m high and has a base diameter of 20 m. The huge body has three distinctive faces. The face of the sun on the belly represents the present, the golden face at the top represents the future and the black sun on the back represents the past.OKAMOTO Taro believed that "within the human body and spirit, the past, present and future of mankind are always present in a unified cycle". The structure is steel-framed, reinforced concrete, and inside the tower is a 41 m high object, the Tree of Life, which extends from the basement to the ground. Let's trace its history a little.





The Tower of the Sun was conceived as a vertical passageway between the underground and the air.

Photo courtesy:Osaka Prefectural Government

In 1970, the Japan World Exposition (Osaka Expo) was held in Osaka's Senri Hills under the theme 'Progress and Harmony of Mankind'. The Osaka Expo, Asia's first World Expo, featured 116 pavilions and attracted 64.21 million visitors in six months, the largest number in Expo history at the time. The Tower of the Sun, which peeked out from the large roof in front of the main gate, had a powerful impact on people. The 'bellabose' structure, which seemed to emerge from another world, was created by the artist OKAMOTO Taro.


Photo courtesy:Osaka Prefectural Government

The Theme Pavilion, prototyped by OKAMOTO Taro, is a pavilion symbolising the theme of the Osaka Expo, but it did not have a building as an exhibition hall so that the large crowds entering through the main gate could flow smoothly into the venue. The exhibition space consists of three levels - underground, above ground and in the air - each representing the past/root, present/harmony and future/progress. The Tower of the Sun was conceived as a vertical passageway connecting the underground exhibition and the aerial exhibition inside the large roof, which spans a height of approximately 30 metres. However, no one imagined that the tower, with its strange, never-before-seen shape, would break through the large roof of the space frame designed by architect TANGE Kenzo, who was also responsible for the venue's master plan.


Ruins of a large roof that remain today.



Values completely opposite to those of the progressivist Expo.

“When I took on the role of Expo theme producer, I wanted to explode at its core the pride of being human, the joy of being alive.”

OKAMOTO Taro wanted to throw in values completely opposite to the progressivist Expo: "Technological progress will open the future of mankind". Humanity is not progressing," he said, "we need to go back to the roots."

OKAMOTO Taro so explained, bringing the perspective of vibrant 'life' to the theme of 'progress and harmony of mankind'.


The theme pavilions revolved around the Tower of the Sun, with the underground exhibition on the 'Mysteries of Life', the ground exhibition on 'Modern Energy' and the aerial exhibition on the main roof on the theme of 'Future Space'. Visitors took a route from the underground exhibition area, through the interior of the Tower of the Sun to the aerial exhibition area on the main roof.

The Tower of the Sun symbolises the energy of all things generated through the past, present and future, as well as the centre of life and the centre of festivals, and was a symbol of the Osaka Expo, bringing excitement to many visitors.


Photo courtesy:Osaka Prefectural Government


The Tower of the Sun was planned to be demolished.

After the Osaka Expo closed, the Tower of the Sun was scheduled to be dismantled and removed like the other pavilions. When the site of the Osaka Expo was being used, renewed consideration was given to what to do with the Tower of the Sun, which had become a symbol of the Osaka Expo, and a number of arguments were raised for and against the tower, with many people saying that it would be expensive to maintain and that they wanted it to remain as a memorial.It was difficult to reach a decision, but many people from all over the country wanted to preserve it, and it was decided that it would be permanently preserved as a monument for the Osaka Expo, this was in 1975.

After that, the doors of the Tower of the Sun were closed and the interior was closed to the public.

In 2003, a special open house was held as a commemorative event, which was flooded with applications. 2016 saw the start of a project by the Osaka Prefectural Government to earthquake-proof and rebuild the Tower of the Sun. 2018 saw the Tower of the Sun's interior open to the public.





Rebirth of the "Tree of Life" inside the Tower of the Sun Reconstruction of the missing fourth face, the "Underground Sun".

Fourth face, The Underground Sun. Photo courtesy:Osaka Prefectural Government

Here is a look inside the Tower of the Sun, which has been rebuilt for the first time in half a century.

The entrance is at the rear of the Tower of the Sun. Enter through the underground passage. Follow OKAMOTO Taro's conceptual drawing of the Tower of the Sun to the underground exhibition room.

The exhibition is inspired by the atmosphere of the Underground Exhibition: the World of the Roots, which was located in the front section of the Tower of the Sun at the time of the Osaka World's Fair, and the fourth face of the exhibition, the 《Underground Sun》, is a sight to behold. This is a huge, golden mask measuring approximately 3 m in diameter and 11 m wide. It has been missing since the closing of Expo '70 Osaka, but has been reconstructed based on photographs and other sources. The underground sun is surrounded by masks and clay figures from around the world, which were also displayed at the time, creating a magical world.In the basement space of the Theme Pavilion, there are three exhibitions on Life, People and Pray, and s cenes from former exhibitions are also projected along with projection mapping.


Restored "Underground Sun".

Projection mapping allows diverse faces to be seen.

In the underground passageway, a small window allows you to look up close to the face of the Tower of the Sun.




The Tree of Life is the "bloodstream" of the Tower of the Sun.

After passing through the underground exhibition, the bright red womb of the Tower of the Sun. The Tree of Life, a 41 m high object, rises from the basement into the sky. On the undulating body of the tree are 33 models of living organisms, tracing the evolution of life from protozoa to humans.Just as it was then, "Hymn to Life" composed by MAYUZUMI Toshiro (1929-1997) echoes through the tower, the sun bugs and sea lilies change colour and glow from within, and the red walls seem to ripple. The Tree of Life is a spectacular installation that combines music, lighting and exhibition.

Living organisms of the protozoan era.

heliozoan

"The Tree of Life is the 'bloodstream' of the Tower of the Sun, and the folds of the inner wall are the 'folds of the brain'".OKAMOTO Taro described it so.

In the restoration project, the interior of the Tower of the Sun was not restored to its original state, but staged using modern technology, such as LED lights, so that visitors can better experience the "tremendous energy of life" that OKAMOTO Taro tried to express.


There were originally 292 models of 33 species, now there are 183 models of 33 species. They have been restored using technology that was not available at the time to make the creatures look more lively. The only gorilla whose head was left bare is displayed as it was, so that visitors can feel the age of the animal.


Gorilla that has been perched on the Tree of Life since the 1970 Osaka Expo to this day.





All living things have one root.

At the time of the Osaka Expo, visitors travelled up the tower on four escalators, which were still rare, tracing the story of the evolution of life. The escalators, which used to carry a bell-load of people, have now been replaced by stairs in order to make the tower lighter. The visitors climbed the stairs while watching the evolution of life - protozoa, reptiles, dinosaurs... and by the time they reached the Cro-Magnon man, they felt as if they had finally met their ancestors after a long journey.However, the tree of life does not mean that humans are above and protozoa below. Rather, invisible amoebas and other protozoa are made larger and humans are made smaller. OKAMOTO Taro believed that all living things are born from a single cell, have a single root, and are connected to the same trunk.

The tower is navigated by stairs.

Neanderthal

At about 30 m high, the top floor is just at the base of the Tower of the Sun's arm. In the past, an escalator in the right arm took visitors to the aerial exhibition on the main roof. On the other hand, the left arm was equipped with an evacuation staircase. Above, the beautiful 'Space of the Sun', which represents the infinite heavens, extends into the sky, while the tip of the Tree of Life goes beyond it into the future. It is imagined to extend into space.



Information plate used at the time of the 1970 Osaka Expo.

You could move from the right arm to the aerial display.


Inside the left arm



What does the Tower of the Sun ask?

It is not uncommon for people in their 60s or older who know about the 1970 Osaka Expo to shed tears, saying that they were moved to see the Tree of Life at the Tower of the Sun after 50 years had passed.The Tower of the Sun was conceived at the same time as OKAMOTO Taro's giant mural Myth of Tomorrow, which is known as the landmark of Shibuya Station, and many younger generations visit the site as OKAMOTO Taro's artwork.

When we receive feedback from visitors that they are overwhelmed by the power of the work, we realize once again that this is a monument that has been impacting viewers for 50 years," says a staff member.

If the future dreamt of by Expo '70 Osaka is 'now', has mankind really progressed? The Tower of the Sun poses a big question for us.






After you have enjoyed the world of the Tower of the Sun, be sure to stop by the museum shop. A wide variety of goods are available, including books to help you understand more about OKAMOTO Taro, the most popular Tower of the Sun figure, postcards and key rings.

Admission to the Tower of the Sun can only be booked in advance up to one day prior (on a first-come, first-served basis). Reservations can be made up to 120 days in advance of the reservation procedure date from the official website of the Tower of the Sun. For more information, please refer to the basic information and visit the website.





Recommendations for places to visit and eat in the vicinity of the Tower of the Sun EXPO'70 Pavilion

The Steel Pavilion, which was an exhibition facility at the time of the Osaka Expo, is used as a memorial museum for the Expo. It houses a hall called the Space Theatre, a paper craft that reproduces the venue of the Osaka Expo at a scale of 1/300, and other valuable documents and other exhibits from the Osaka Expo.In the annex, the first "Golden Face" (10.6 m in diameter), which was installed at the top of the Tower of the Sun at the time of the Osaka Expo, is on display. The uniforms of the 'hostesses' who decorated the pavilion are also on display.

Photo courtesy:Osaka Prefectural Government



Wood-fired pizza café NORTH GARDEN

The restaurant is proud of its wood-fired pizzas, which are made with wood from thinned trees felled in the Expo Park. The original pizzas, named after the four faces of Expo '70 Commemorative Park's symbols - the Sun Pizza, the Black Pizza, the Golden Pizza and the Underground Pizza - are highly recommended. Located on the south side of the Peace Rose Garden, it would be fun to take out and eat on a bench in the rose garden.






Basic information


Tower of the Sun

Address

Senri Expo Park, Suita City, Osaka, Japan

Tel

0120-1970-89 (Expo Park Call Centre) *Closed on Wednesdays (in accordance with Expo Park).

Website

Opening hours

10:00-17:00 (last admission 16:30)

Closed

Wednesdays (if Wednesday is a public holiday, the weekday immediately following) / Year-end and New Year holidays *Open from 1 Apr to GW May and closed in Oct and Nov.

Admission

¥930 for adults and ¥380 for elementary and junior high school students for the Tower of the Sun + Shizen Bunka-en and Japanese Garden entrance set ticket.

In principle, payment by credit card at the time of booking admission.



EXPO'70 Pavilion

Address

Senri Expo Park, Suita City, Osaka

Tel

0120-1970-89 / 06-6877-7387 (Expo '70 Park Call Centre)

Website

Opening hours

10:00-17:00 (last admission by 16:30)

Closed

Wednesdays (if Wednesday is a bank holiday, the weekday immediately following) *Follows Expo Park rules.

Admission

¥500 for adults (high school students and above), free for junior high school students and below.



Wood-fired pizza café NORTH GARDEN

Address

Senri Banpaku Koen, Suita City, Osaka

Tel

06-6816-1055

Website

Opening hours

10:00-17:00 (last order 16:30) *Some items including pizza available from 11:00

Closed

Wednesdays (or the weekday immediately following if Wednesday is a public holiday) *Follows the rules of Expo Park.


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