Okinawa Expo '75 Aquapolis

OKINAWA, JAPAN 1975
Expo '75, International Oceans Exposition



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Quick List Info

Okinawa Expo '75 Poster

Dates Open - July 20, 1975 to January 18, 1976. Open 183 days.

Attendance - 3,485,750 total visitors.

International Participants - 35 nations, 3 international organizations, 1 dominion.

Total Cost - 46,018,000,000 yen ($155.2 million) for Expo Authority. Total 90 billion yen ($304 million) for all participants.

Site Acreage - 247 acres.

Sanction and Type - Sanctioned by the Bureau of International Exhibitions on May 26, 1972 as a Special Expo. At the time of the expo, the B.I.E. sanctioned fairs as General Category 1, 2, and Special. Would be considered a Special, Recognized event today like those on the 2-3 or 7-8 year of the decade, although acreage and length of event might suggest the 5 year smaller registered event.

Ticket Cost - Full adult price Y1800 ($6.07 @ 296 Yen to $). Per capita price was Y1379 ($4.66 @ 296Y per $).


Photo top center: Okinawa Ocean Expo site with Aquapolis in the foreground. Courtesy Pinterest. Column Top: Expo '75 Official Poster, 1975, Original source likely Expo Authority. Courtesy Pinterest. Column Below: Logo for the Oceans Expo, Okinawa 1975, 1975, Expo Authority. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

Okinawa Expo '75 Logo


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History of the Event

Expo '75

Unique, with the theme pavilion, Aquapolis, floating in the ocean, that covered its theme, "The Sea We Would All Like to See," even though the theme overall was seen by some as uninspiring. Ambitious, as Japan tried to build back Okinawa after years of neglect post World War II and their reconnection with the island in 1972 after it was handed back to the nation by the United States. More successful than realized, it drew above its expected attendance at 2.3 million and broke even, (some even quote a small profit) although that's a bit of a numbers stretch as the Expo Authority and nation were fairly intertwined. Criticized, for quick planning and a lack of sustainable thought to what the site and Aquapolis could be.

In many ways, all of the above seem unfair, if not accurate. The International Oceans Expo in Okinawa was an ambitious project in an area of Japan that had not been pure Japanese since the end of World War II. The theme was addressed in various clusters; Fish, People's and History, Science and Technology, and Ships, as well in the other of fifty-three pavilions. But there were problems from the start, including the oil crises that caused a postponement of opening day from March to July. Domestic trouble saw violent protests against the Japanese rulers and ships in the sea, although there was little to no damage. There were limited lodging facilities near the site with Naha, the capital city, eight-five kilometers away.

Above photo. Crowds at Okinawa's Expo '75. Original source unknown. Courtesy Pinterest. Middle: Soviet Union Pavilion, 1975. Courtesy Pinterest. Below: Commemorative coins from Expo '75, 2010, Misogi and Hmari Karonen. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

Soviet Union Pavilion
The exhibition included the Oceanic Culture Pavilion, built by the Government of Japan and MITI, to remain as a museum, the Marine Life Park (Government of Japan), a permanent display with aquarium and adjacent Dolphin Land, and Shore Park (Government of Japan), which comprised one quarter of the site. Of course, there was that theme structure, the Aquapolis, also built by the Government of Japan, a floating city connected to the land by Aqua Bridge. The Aqua Farm was located on the other side of the bridge.

There was on site transportation in the Expo New City Car (KRT) 1.4 km with capacity of 5,500 people per hour plus the Expo Future Car (CVS) 1.6 km. There were also Electric Shuttle Service Cars (1.6 km) and buses (2.5 km). Plazas abounded called Expo Beach, Kariyushi Plaza, Sunset Plaza, Expo Port, and the Portside Theater with one thousand five hundred seats. There was an amusement section, Expo Land. It had a Jet Coaster, Marine Mystery House, Cosmic Ray Shower, Giant Ferris Wheel, Jet Slide, Merry-Go-Round, Reptile Museum, Game Corner, Swimming Pool, and Topland Restaurant.


Historian/Participant Perspective

Michael Mitsugi Sakihara - "Okinawa was under US military occupation 1945-1972 during which welfare of people was neglected by both Japan and US. When Okinawa returned to Japan in 1972, Japanese government tried to make up for the past negligence. "Expo 75" was one of the ways the Japanese Government came up to spend money in Okinawa improved the life of the people there. Since it was the political motivation that pushed the event - since the Japanese government wanted it no matter what - the main objective was to appease the unhappy Okinawans by spending money, their planning was hasty and not well planned! Ocean life theme was excellent but no heart was in it. Therefore, after the event was over, it was left to rot and neglected. CF with other expo site in Osaka. Good theme that the Japanese Government and people could not utliize it to its full advantage."

" So many hotels and businesses which planned to take advantage of the event failed or bankrupted! It even brought misery! They expected much too much of its economic benefits. It was much too expensive for the visitors from the distances, as a result the number of visitors fell way short of expectations. All the great money poured into it was quickly routed back into the pockets of big business in Japan. Okinawa did get the improved highway system and a bunch of bankrupted hotels.

Commemorative coins, Expo '75


BIE Special Expo

USA Pavilion, Expo '75, Okinawa

International Participants
Nations and Colonies

Australia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Central America (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua), Colombia, Cuba, Egypt, German Democratic Republic, Holy See, Hungary, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Kenya, Republic of Korea, Malta, Monaco, Morocco, Netherlands Antilles (Dominion), Philippines, Spain, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, USA, USSR, Uruguay, Western Samoa.

International Organizations - European Community, United Nations, Seapentre.

Other Pavilions: Aqua Farm, Aquapolis, Marine Life Park, Oceanic Cultures Pavilion, Shore Park, Expo Beach, Okinawa Prefecture Pavilion.

Corporate and Other Participants: Fuyo Group, Hitachi A/V Marine Library, Kaiyo Midori Kan, Mitsubishi, Mitsui Children's Science Pavilion, Sumitomo, World Oceans Group, Visual Exhibition by Matsushita.

Note: It is sometimes difficult to tell whether certain nations actually participated in a significant way. Newspaper reports as well as the official guidebook may indicate participation when actual participation did not occur, or occurred minimally. Take the above as a guide, not gospel.

Expo Tidbits
Australia pavilion was 1,335 square meters and had an attendance of 1,324,000.

United States pavilion budget was $10 million on the theme "Ocean Science and Technology." 1,750,000 attended the U.S. pavilion, which included a 25,000 gallon salt water tank with aquanaut demonstrations throughout the day.

There were two rapid transit people movers on site. The expo site was reached from Naha, capital city fifty-five miles away, by hovercraft, buses, and a new highway for private autos.

Expo Land was open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. The total number of visitors to attractions was 714,394. The most popular was the Jet Coaster with 215,565.

Legacies
After the fair the expo pavilions were demolished and site rebuilt into park setting known as Okinawa Commemorative National Government Park or Ocean Expo Park. It was to include the Aquapolis, Ryukyu Pavilion, and the Ocean Cultures Museum. At first, six thousand people per day visited the site after the expo closed. Four million visited the Aquapolis before it was closed in 1993; it was taken down in 2000. Today, the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium and Tropical and Subtropical Arboretum are on the site, built at a later date.

Those in Charge

Honorary President the Crown Prince of Japan.

Aquapolis, Expo '75

Photo column top: USA Pavilion, Expo '75. Original source unknown. Courtesy Pinterest. Middle: Aquapolis, date unknown. Courtesy Pinterest.

Sources: Official Report of the International Ocean Exposition, Okinawa Japan, 1975, Japan Association for the International Ocean Exposition, Okinawa 1975; "Fairs! Fairs! Fairs! The U.S. Information Agency and U.S. Participation at World Fairs Since WWII" by Martin J. Manning; U.S.I.A. Final Report, Ocean Expo 75 (Okinawa, Japan); Historical Dictionary of World's Fairs by Alfred Heller.

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