Tsukuba Expo '85

Expo '85, Dwellings and Surroundings
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Quick List Info

Tsukuba Expo '85

Dates Open - March 17 to September 16, 1985. Opening Ceremony held March 16, no public entry. Open 184 Days

Attendance - 20,334,727 total visitors, including 755,000 foreigners.

International Participants - 48 nations, including Japan, plus 37 international organizations in 9 pavilions.

Total Cost - Budget was Y44b operating ($178m), Y50b construction ($202m), Total Y94.108b ($380 million.). Other sources list final total expenditures for the Expo Authority at $763.7 million.

Site Acreage - 177.25 acres (inside bonded expo site gates), 248 acres total.

Sanction and Type - BIE Sanctioned Special Category Expo approved April 22, 1981.

Ticket Cost - Adult Full admission price - Y2700 ($10.91). Youth 15-22, Y1400, ($5.50), Children 4--14, Y700 ($2.78).

Photo top center: Front cover of the promotional pamphlet for Expo '85, Tsukuba, Japan. Courtesy Expo Authority. Column Top: Expo '85 paper souvenir, Expo Authority. Courtesy Pinterest. Column Below: Rendering of Expo '85 pavilion, Original source unknown. Courtesy Pinterest.

Tsukuba Expo '85

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History of the Event

Site Map of Expo '85

The area of Tsukuba had been a rural region thirty miles from Tokyo, but was in the midst of transforming itself into a science city with forty-five universities and research facilities popping up. In 1978, the Science and Technology Association announced plans for an expo. By 1979, they had informed the Bureau of International Exposition of their goal to host. Two years later, the expo was approved. Since Osaka had hosted Expo '70, with the Japanese economy emerging as an international power, the private and public sectors of Japan loved their expos that would show off their progress and technology. There had been the BIE sanctioned fair in Okinawa in 1975, plus other unofficial world's fairs and regional fairs such as Kobe in 1981. It was a nation of expos and they knew how to do them well.

Expo '85 would be no different. Corporate participants rose to the challenge, building large impressive structures. The nation of Japan, plus its domestic prefectures, came on board with little hesitation. Two thirds of site construction costs were born by government interests. Operating expenses would be born by admission and rental receipts.

The pavilions of the Japanese government were comprehensive. They built the Theme Pavilion called "My Land, My Life" with a glass symbol tower, Diversity of Land zone, Sun and Water Zone, and My Life area. The History Pavilion was a U shaped structure with exhibit halls for Technology and Independence, Iron and Rice, and Science and Its Fruits. The Children's Plaza, Expo Plaza, and Tsukuba Expo Center, which was outside the grounds and included an exhibition hall ad planetarium, would be permament.

Above photo. Site map of Expo '85, Expo Authority. Below: Fuyo Pavilion at Tsukuba 1985, 1985. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

Fuyo Pavilion

The Japanese Corporate Pavilions, in many ways, stole the show. The Hatachi Group had an industrial robot ice sculpting and rotating Interface Theater. Toshiba had four zones: Waiting Zone, Entrance Hall, Showscan Theater, and the Electro-Plaza. Mitsui Water Theater had a Waterfall stage. The Sumitomo Pavilion 3D Fantasium had a 3D movie "Earth Song." There was the Gas Pavilion (Japan Gas Association), UCC Coffee Pavilion, INS Pavilion of Nippon Telegraph & Telephone, Kodansha Publishing Pavilion, Mitsubishi Pavilion, IBM Japan, Steel Pavilion (Japan Iron and Steel Federation), Kurumakan (Japan Automobile Manufactures Assocation, Inc., 13 companies), Fujitsu, TDK, Matsushita Pavilion, the Fuyo Robot Theater. Sony JumboTRON, Adventures of Electro-Gulliver - Electric Power Pavilion, Technocosmos, Daiei Pavilion, NEC C&C Pavilion, Midori-kan Pavilion (Sanwa Group - 86 companies), Suntory Pavilion, Shueisha Publishing Pavilion, Health & Sports Pavilion (Descente Ltd., Suzuken Co., Ltd., Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.), KDD Telecomland (Kokusai Denshin Denwa Co., Ltd.), Heartopia (Sankin-kai 46 companies), and the Papyrus Plaza - "Books are the Eternal Intellectual Museum," which drew an estimated 2 million visitors.

The exposition was considered a success, with over twenty million people in attendance, and had a stable financial structure due to its government backing. It was criticized, however, for its high-tech exhibits that some newspapers reported as unmemorable, that the wait lines were long, and that accommodations were far away. So much for an opinion. Concessionaires said they lost money. Others thought the Japanese pavilion was the best ever. Tsukuba wanted a fair to help promote its science business and place to reside. It had thought prior to the fair that 200,000 would live there, but only 30,000 did. Today, over 223,000 people are residents.

Historian/Participant Perspective

Jack Spoehr - "I certainly sensed from all the media and exposure through direct, personal visit a strong sense of popular, governmental pride. From what I could sense just visiting the expos, very good public word of mouth. Media always need to criticize something negatively - even if the collective subject is very good. There was some of this - although today I can't remember specifics. Overall media comment was positive. I should have seen the new themes at the nucleus of these respective expos - but I'm afraid I was focused on Imax's new technologies (introduced at each of them) - or on individual other pavilions - rather than a pervasive theme. To the extent that I was conscious of an overarching theme, they seemed popular in appeal. I suspect people focused on the attractions of individual pavilions - as I did."

Jim Ogul - "Tsukuba raised corporate participation to a new level. The corporate pavilions far outpaced the national pavilions. Taejon took corporate participation to a level exceeding Tsukuba. The rest were average in novelty. I think that the Asian culture interweaves government and business much more than Western cultures so the host governments strongly encourage private sector involvement and they get it. Private companies at Taejon and Tsukuba put up numerous $30 million plus pavilions. For many of these cities it was the first time for a major event of this magnitude. Some of the inexperienced cities did very well. I thought Tsukuba and Taejon did very well especially at handling very large crowds. Also the national days worked like clockwork. As an American with no language ability in either Japanese or Korean, the hosts made it almost as easy to deal with the issues of my job as being home in the States. Very enjoyable and interesting experience."

BIE Special Expo

Sumitomo Pavilion, Expo '85

International Participants
Nations and Colonies

United States, Costa Rica, Brazil, Uruguay, Portugal, Belize, Nepal, Dom. Republic, Panama, Jamaica, Federal Republic of Germany, Italy, Sweden, Australia, Switzerland, Yugoslavia, United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Soviet Union, Bulgaria, Kiribati (South Pacific Pavilion, SPP), Tonga (SPP), Tuvalu (SPP), Papua New Guinea (SPP), Western Samoa (SPP), Solomon Islands (SPP), Nauru (SPP), Fiji (SPP), Vanuatu (SPP), Ivory Coast (Africa Pavilion AFP), Kenya (AFP), Senegal (AFP), Zambia (AFP), Korea (South), Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Thailand, Bruei Darussalam, Seychelles, Philippines, Canada, China, Turkey, Tunisia, Iran, Egypt, Japan.

International Organizations - European Community Pavilion, United Nations Peace Pavilion (30 related organizations), World Tourism Organization (WTO), Asian Development Bank (ADB), Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development (OECD), International Organization for Standardization (ISO), INTELSAT (International Telecommunications Satellite Organization), INMARSAT (International Maritime Satellite Organization), International Telecommunications Union (ITU), a UN agency.

Japanese Domestic Participants (28).

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
High attendance day was September 15 with 338,539 visitors.

Transportation on the site included the Vista Liner (mini-monorail) - designed to move visitors from the North Gate to the center of site, the Sky Ride that provided transportation over Potchan Lake between Blocks A and F, and between the West and South gates. 2.88 million people used that. Pore-Pore Bus (Minibuses) and the HSST rounded out the major options.

Parade of 10 electric floats with other participants moved along main site twice daily, and parade participants presented shows three times a day at plazas throughout the site.

Number of participants was the largest ever for a special expo, comprising 47 foreign nations, 37 international organizations, 28 Japanese institutions, as well as the Japanese government. Impression of visitors, both Japan and foreign, was favorable. 62.1% of Japanese and 83.6% of foreign visitors replied that Expo '85 was very good or good.

The United States Pavilion had a $9.5 million budget with $5.8 million corporate donations on the theme, "Artificial Intelligence." It was 32,000 sq. ft. and drew 4.8 million people.

Tsukuba Expo Center, 4 kilometers outside site grounds, remains as a science center and planetarium. The temporary pavilions were removed and site restored to its original state.

Those in Charge

Yasuhiro Nakasone, Prime Minister of Japan, President of Expo. Chairman - Toshiwo Doko. Vice Chairman - Hideo Edo, Noboru Goto, Nihachiro Hanamura, Soichiro Honda, Masaru Ibuka, Hoshihiro Inayama, Katsuji Kawamata, Koji Kobayashi, Akira Matsui, Gakuji Moriya, Fujio Takeuchi, Hirokichi Yoshiyama. Standing Directors - Michihiro Nishida, Atsushi Shimokobe, Kunomi Umezawa, Jiro Ushio. Secretary General - Yoshinori Ihara. Yohei Kohno - State Minister in charge of Expo, Minister of State for Science and Technology. Katsuichi Ikawa, Commissioner General. Toshiwo Doko, Chairman of the Expo Association.

Expo '85, Tsukuba, Japan

Sources: Tsukuba Expo '85 Official Report, Japan Association for the International Exposition, Tsukuba 1985; New York Times; Philadelphia Inquirer; Fair News; Historical Dictionary of World's Fairs by Alfred Heller.

Photo column top: Sumitomo Pavilion, Expo '85, Original Source Unknown. Courtesy Pinterest. Middle: Expo '85 site, 1985, Original source unknown. Courtesy Pinterest. Bottom: Rear of Expo '85 pamphlet urging visitors to come to Tsukuba. Courtesy Expo Authority.

Expo '85, Tsukuba, Japan

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