Between March 15 and September 13, 1970, a world’s fair was held in Osaka as the Expo ’70 and was the first world’s fair held in Japan. The theme of the expo was all about “Progress and Harmony for Mankind” and was represented by a symbol called the “Tower of the Sun.” It was closed for decades but the inside has finally opened up to the public.
The tower was built by Kenzo Tange, one of the most significant architects in the 20th century. It was housed in the “Big Roof” which was the Festival Plaza building of Expo ’70 and was so tall (230 feet) that it projected out of the building. The creator of the tower, Taro Okamoto, labeled it the Tower of the Sun in association with Sakyo Komatsu’s description of it. Sakyo Komatsu was a Japanese fiction writer who associated the tower with a sexual description in the Season of the Sun novel.
The tower consisted of three faces: two faces in the front and one at the back. According to the designer, the tower represented the past, present and future in one fluid construction. The face found at the top represents the future while the face with two arms represents the present. The black face at the rear of the tower is the past. The future face features light-up eyes made by Xenon arc lamps. There used to be another face at the base of the tower which was supposed to represent “Sun of the Underworld” but it was removed to a different location.
The “Tree of Life” was located inside the tower and was 45 meters tall and was considered artwork surrounded by moving staircases. A lift was also available to help people move about. From the tree were objects suspended which had been created by Tsubaraya Productions and represented life’s strength upon moving on in the future.
Once the world fair ended, everything also ended for the Tower of the Sun and was left to its elements. Later on, it was brought back to life in 2014 where it was opened permanently. The multifaceted building is once again open to all curious visitors. You can visit the tower in Osaka if you would like to learn more about the symbol.