On the 15th of March, 1970 in Suita, northern Osaka the first World Expo in Japan opened its doors.
It attracted a record number of visitors (64 million) over the 6 months of operation, a record which was held until the 2010 expo in Shanghai. There were stunning national pavilions on display as well as some amazing architecture. Fast forward 45 years the crowds are gone and nearly all the buildings, plazas and structures have been pulled down. Yet there are some buildings that still remain and there are many reasons to visit!
Appropriately renamed to the Expo Commemoration Park or Bampaku Kinen Koen these grounds showcase some brilliant gardens and museums. The first thing to grab your eye as you walk through the front gates is the Tower of the Sun or Taiyo no To. This monster tower standing at 70 meters tall is nearly twice as large as the Statue of Liberty. It was a centrepiece during the expo and is the main piece left standing. Periodically they allow visitors inside to view the large art piece inside known as the tree of life. The statue has 3 different faces on it representing the past, present and the future.
There are a number of gardens surrounding the park, some western or rose gardens as well as traditional Japanese gardens showing a diverse and colourful display of plant life. The grounds are very open and there is plenty of room to kick a ball or throw a frisbee around including a very cool playground, which isn’t the easiest thing to find in a major Japanese city. There are also some pedal boats that can be taken for a spin around the reasonably sized lake.
Another great attraction is the National Museum of Ethnology which is considered a major museum in Japan for the study of humanity and social science. You can see some great displays inside ranging from tools and boats from the pacific islands to the living quarters of a Mongolian hut. This museum crosses many breadths of humanity such as language, music and clothing. It’s well worth a visit.
The Expo Commemoration Park is accessible via the Osaka monorail system at Banpaku-Kinen-Koen Station.
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