And here we were thinking that the New York World’s Fair of 1939 and 1968 were impressive. Osaka knocked it out of the park in the 1970. The theme of the Expo was “Progress and Harmony for Mankind,” and a total of 77 countries participate, including the USA and the USSR, with more than 64 million people in attendance, making it one of the largest and best attended expositions in history. So let’s hop in the time machine and take a look around…
Among the highlights, other than the jaw-dropping architecture, the 1970 Expo offered a look at the earliest mobile phone technology, the premiere of the first-ever IMAX film and a large moon rock on display in the USA pavilion brought back by Apollo 12 astronauts hot off the heels of the first moon landing. The Expo also created a time capsule, that remains sealed today, set to be opened in the year 6970 (if anyone remembers to open it).
The expo was the master plan of a Marxist and a technocrat. The two postwar Japanese architects, Kenzo Tange and Uzo Nishiyama, represented two waves of postwar design in Japan, which had experienced an extremely rapid period of development in the 1960s…
Above & below: the Fuji Group pavilion.
Above & below: USSR pavilion.
Both the American and the Soviet pavilions, highlighted the exploration and future development of space. The Osaka Expo of 1970 would be the last world exposition attended by the Soviet Union.
At the centre of the expo was artist Tarō Okamoto’s “Tower of the Sun, a 70 meter tower with three faces on its front and back. Today, it’s preserved and located in the Expo Commemoration Park in the Osaka Prefecture, Japan.
Above: Switzerland pavilion. “The decoration tree is clad entirely with aluminum, and the power of one million watts illuminates 35,000 lamps of the tree at night, and produces an atmosphere of festiviity and peace.”
Above: Japan pavilion. “The five-wing pavilion designed after the Expo symbol mark, largest of the structures on the site, stands impressively on an 8,000-square-meter lot, or 1/10,000,000 of Japan’s total area.”
Above: The Dutch Pavillion, a “viewing machine”, a multimedia environment in which the visitor was immersed in spatial collages of impressionistic images and sounds by film maker Jan Vrijman and composer Louis Andriessen.
Above: Japan Gas Association pavilion. “Laughter is a gift bestowed only upon human beings, and the main aim of this pavilion is the recovery of laughter.”
There was so much incredible architecture, can you believe it’s mostly all gone! The only remaining structure is the Tower of the Sun…
The good news is, Osaka won the bid to host 2025 World Expo with the theme “Designing future society for our lives.” But are those fantastical and futuristic World Fairs reminiscent of “The Jetsons” a thing of the past? We sure hope not.