Osaka Expo '70

Expo '70, Progress and Harmony for Mankind

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Quick List Info

Osaka Expo '70 Poster

Dates Open - March 15 to September 13, 1970. Open 183 days.

Attendance - Total # of Visitors, Actual 64,218,770. Total # of Sold Admission Tickets, re: 63,607,568.

International Participants - 77 countries plus 1 territory.

Total Cost - Construction Y52,219,664,871, Operational Y36,891,240,784, Total Expenses Y89,110,905,655 ($249m at 358Y per $). According to the New York Times, the total spent on expo related projects plus expo was $3 billion spent with $420 million spent on preparation of site and construction of pavilions.

Site Acreage - Total acreage, including parking, 815 acres. Inside gates, approximately 449 acres.

Sanction and Type - Sanctioned by the Bureau of International Exhibitions on May 11, 1966 as a Universal Expo, General Category 1. At the time of the expo, the B.I.E. sanctioned fairs as General Category 1, 2, and Special. Would be considered a Universal style, Registered event today like those on the 0 year of the decade.

Ticket Cost - Adult Admission 800Y $2.23, Children 4-15 Half Price, Children 15-22 Three Quarter Price.

Photo top center: View of the fairgrounds at Expo '70, 1970. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons. Column Top: Expo '70 Official Poster, 1970, Original source likely Expo Authority. Courtesy Pinterest. Column Below: Osaka Expo Map, 1970, Expo Authority. Courtesy Pinterest.

Osaka Expo '70 Map

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History of the Event

Building at Expo '70

It's hard to imagine a more compelling rationale for hosting a world's fair, and the Japanese took hold of all those reasons to build and attend one of the most successful and major World's Fairs in history in 1970's Osaka. It marked the 1,000th year of Japanese history and human achievement, attempted to show the world, and did, that Japan had recovered from both the devastation of World War II and the perception of Japan as an invading nation. It was the first World's Fair of consequence in the Far East. It was a public pride project. Expo '70 tried to prove to the world that it's theme, Harmony for Mankind, was an appropriate theme for Japan to use. For Japan, it was. For the rest of the world, it was and remains a challenge.

Expo '70 was a panoply of sight, colors, and sound. The buildings, while in some ways representing a mixmash of styles, provided an amazing landscape to walk through. There were moon rocks, the Tower of the Sun, sixty-four acres of Japanese gardens, lasers, films projected on balloons, and the first film in IMAX. It was one of the first fairs to bring a huge number of official international participants to an expo, a trend that would continue. One hundred and forty-six nations were invited; seventy-seven came. Beyond the foreign exhibitors, there were thirty-two domestic exhibitors in twenty-four private pavilions. The fair was organized in three sections; Japanase Government, Japanese Commercial, and Foreign. It was organized and paid for by the Japanese, Osaka Prefecture, and Osaka City Governments. The official organizer was MITI, the Japanese Ministry of International Trade and Industry. They were responsible for the budget.

Above photo. Sketch of one pavilion at Expo '70. Courtesy Pinterest. Below: Korean Pavilion at Osaka 1970, 1970. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

Korean Pavilion
The fairgrounds were designed around seven theme plazas for each day of the week. The pavilions rose around the fair in many ways in stark contrast to each other. The Tower of the Sun, the theme structure, was kinda supposed to be the tallest structure at one hundred ninety-eight feet. The Soviet Union built their pavilion to rise three hundred and fifty-seven feet. The United States went the other way; most of their pavilion was under ground.

The fair was a big success, particularly in the area of attendance, national pride, and showing the world the progress that Japan had made into polite and capitalistic society since World War II. Some reports indicate a profit, $54.3 to $146 million dollars from various sources, although a profit in a government funded enterprise is often subject to accounting. How do you charge off elements, such as infrastructure, that will remain? In any case, the Japanese people saw it as a success, starting off a remarkable run of hosting international, national, garden, and other expos for the next twenty-five years (Okinawa, Kobe, Tsukuba, Osaka Garden, Nagoya just to name a few). That jived with the impression visitors had while at the fair. 76% of those surveyed thought Japan should host an expo again, 39% thought the expo was good, 17.1% very good. Among facilities of the Association, the Festival Plaza and fountains made the biggest impression.

Of course, there were detractors and concerns along the way. Despite increasing hotel capacity in Osaka from five thousand to ten thousand rooms, there were perceptions that would not be enough. The New York Times, on January 17, 1970, published the headline, "Expo Nears & Osakans Brace for Influx of Relatives," stating that the 50 million expected visitors would have to bed down with an aunt or uncle, not in a hotel room. By September, they were lauding the fair, "At the Osaka Fair, Overwhelming Crowds." Not sure if they were still concerned about where all those over sixty-four million stayed. Facts were more people came not needing accommodation than envisioned; lots more day trips.

Historian/Participant Perspective

Leonard Levitan, Levitan Design - "Peace and Harmony" was the first Asian Expo ever and marked the rise of Japan from the ashes of war. It reflected a new Japan that wanted to show a new attitude that negated their militaristic past. The best example of national pride, both of the citizenry and the government together is Japan. The Japanese love Expos. Where the federal government of a country is firmly behind an exposition, as in Canada, Osaka, Spain and Korea, budgetary problems always come up, but were always surmountable. All that was needed was sufficient justification."

Sources: Official Report of the Japan World Exposition, Osaka 1970; The Anthropology of World's Fairs; Les Fastes du Progrees; "Oh, So Many Fairs" by Mike Gregory; New York Times; Historical Dictionary of World's Fairs by Alfred Heller.

BIE Universal Expo

Official Poster, Expo '70, Osaka

International Participants
Nations and Colonies

Canada, United States, Algeria, Ivory Coast, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Madagascar, Mauritius, Nigeria, Uganda, Central African Republic, Tanzania, Zambia, Argentina, Brazil, Chili, Columbia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Salvador, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Dominican Republic, Sierra Leone, Uruguay, Venezuela, Abu Dhabi, Afghanastan, Saudi Arabia, Burma, Japan, Cambodia, Ceylon, Republic of China, Korea, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kuwait, Laos, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, United Arab Republic, Singapore, Thailand, Turkey, Vietnam, Germany, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Malta, Monaco, Norway, Netherlands, Portugal, United Kingdom, Sweden, Switzerland, Czechoslovakia, USSR, Vatican, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong (Territory).

International Organizations - United Nations, O.E.C.D., European Community, Asian Development Bank.

Provinces, States, and Cities: Quebec, British Colombia, Ontario, Washington, Hawaii, Alaska, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Munich.

Corporate and Other Participants: Rainbow Tower , Telecommunications Pavilion, Gas Pavilion, Wacoal-Riccar Pavilion, Electric Power Pavilion, Sumitomo Pavilion, Takara Beautilion, Steel Pavilion, Fuji Group Pavilion, Pavilion Textiles, Suntory Pavilion, Kubota Pavilion, Mitsui Group Pavilion, Toshiba IHI Pavilion, Pepsi, Japan Folk Crafts Museum, Furukawa Pavilion, Hitachi Group Pavilion, Midor-Kan, IBM, Mitsubishi, Ricoh Pavilion, Automobile Pavilion, Sanyo, Fujipan Robot Pavilion, Mormon Pavilion, Livelihood Pavilion, Matsushita, Chemical Pavilion, Christian Pavilion, American Park, Eastman Kodak.

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.

Some Random Use Stats: Theme Pavilion 9,173,533 Visitors; Expo Museum 1,755,173 Visitors. Monorail 33,512,314 rides; Cableway 2,486,720 rides; Expo Tower 1,322,943 users. The United States Pavilion had 18 million visitors.

Expo Tidbits
Largest attendance day was September 5 with 835,832.

The Amusement zone at Osaka had the Daidarasaurus, an elaborate roller coaster 1,000 meters long reaching 65 km/hr.

T.I.H. Prince, the Crown Prince of Japan, in his official capacity as Honorary President of the exposition, visited fourteen days and toured all 142 pavilions, including 34 domestic, 76 foreign, 15 pavilions of international organizations, provinces, states, cities, and 17 others.

Entertainment facilities were Expo Hall 6,500 sq. meters with 1,500 seats; City Theatre (off-site Festival Hall chosen as city theater) 8,000 sq. meters seating 2,810; Festival Plaza, total space 10,000 sq. meters, seating and standing 18,000; Floating Stage of 400 sq. meters; Amphitheater 2,400 sq. meters, seating 2,000; Open Squares (7 ranging from 1000-1500 sq. meters).

Expoland: Amusement zone divided into six sections; Space of Planets, Plaza of Wind and Water, Land of One's Self, Central Plaza (Daidarasaurus roller coaster ride, etc.), Ride Center, and Woods of Recollections . Expoland covered 172,500 sq. meters (17.2 hectares, 42 acres). Expoland started slowly due to bad weather, but increased upon beginning of summer vacation season, reaching total of over 4.5 million in August. Most used area was Gameland with 8,148,951, then the Daidarasaurus 2,858,488, and Glass Castle 2,819,193.

There had been plans for a 1940 fair, which were halted when World War II broke out. All surviving tickets were honored at Expo 70.

One of world's fairs that have cleared and developed park land because of the fair. It is now a national cultural park called Expo Commemoration Park with a Japanese Garden and the National Museum of Ethnology. A few pavilions remained after the fair: the Steel Pavilion, Expo Hall, and the Expo Museum of Fine Arts (since moved) among them. Today, part of Expoland is still there, as well as Osaka Expo '70 Stadium, the Tower of the Sun, and the Japan Folk Crafts Museum.

Those in Charge

Kenzo Tange was the architect in charge of overall planning. Toru Haguiwara was Commissioner Genernal of Japanese Government. Taizo Ishizaka, President of Japan Association for 1970 World Exposition.

Canada Pavilion, Expo '70

Photo column top: Official Poster, Osaka Expo '70. Courtesy Pinterest. Bottom: Canada Pavilion, 1970. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

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