Open to the Public for the First Time in 48 Years! A Rush of Bookings to See Inside the Tower of the Sun
The Tower of the Sun was the pavilion for the Symbol Zone at Expo '70 in Osaka. Its interior is now permanently open to the public for the first time in approximately 48 years. Donations that were solicited in preparation for the opening far exceeded expectations and the reservation site crashed due to overload on the launch day. Reservations can be made up to four months in advance, but weekends and national holidays are already completely booked. This article delves into the story behind the tower's popularity. ＜*This information is from Kansai Walker (issued February 20, 2018)＞
The approximately 41m high Tree of Life, which has objects like mammoth models attached to it, is designed for visitors to see the history of evolution as they go upstairs.
Plans to Restore Exhibits as Legacies of the Expo
The tower’s interior has rarely ever been open to the public since 1970, but in 2003, the body that was managing Expo '70 Commemorative Park opened it up to a limited number of visitors.
Hirata from the promotions department commented: "Apparently, there were about 40,000 applicants for the 1,970 available visiting slots. There were additional opportunities afterwards, so approximately 50,000 people visited over a span of about four years."
Perhaps due to its popularity, the managing body began planning how to retain the legacy of Expo '70 in 2006. "Plans were made to retrofit the Tower of the Sun for earthquake resistance and restore the exhibits so that the tower can be preserved for the future."
However, there were many obstacles in the way, such as reinforcements for earthquake resistance and funding. The management of the park was transferred to the City of Osaka and budgets were secured to achieve the much-desired re-opening.
Hirata speculated that "people who remember the Expo and were enchanted by the design that Taro Okamoto – the creator – imagined must have been behind its popularity." Still, it was "unexpected" that the demand would be so high that the reservation site, launched after thorough planning, could not handle the load.
Exhibits and Music Reproduced to Recreate the Atmosphere of the Time
The highlight is the Tree of Life that shows the process of evolution. 183 models of living organisms, from protozoa to the primitive man, have been restored. The Sun of the Underworld, which was exhibited in the basement and has been lost since the Expo, has been restored based on remaining documents and photographs. They even “piped in music arrangements that were played in the basement exhibit so that visitors can fully experience the atmosphere of that time.”
The opening will be held at the perfect time to promote the hosting of the 2025 Expo in Osaka. Hirata argued that "it is one of the few legacies of the '70 Expo and I believe that as a building, it is as valuable as the Eiffel Tower." Even visitors who were not at the '70 Expo are sure to be moved by the phenomenal interior.
The Popularity in Numbers
【140,135,547 JPY】This is the amount of donations that were made in support of opening the Tower of the Sun to the public (as of January 15). There were 2,087 donations and the total far exceeded the original goal of 100 million JPY.
【80 people per 30 minutes】The number of people who can enter is limited in order to meet the safety standards of the Building Standards Act. Up to 80 people can enter every 30 minutes, so if it is open from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, 1,120 people can enter in a day.
【Approximately 30,000 people per second】 The server capacity had been increased due to the high demand from donors for pre-reservations, which took place in December of last year. However, when the website opened for general reservations on January 19, more than 30,000 people accessed it in a second.
■Tower of the Sun (in Expo '70 Commemorative Park)
＜Address: Senri Bampaku Koen, Suita-shi, Osaka; Phone: 06-6155-5601; Hours: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm (last entry at 4:30 pm) *10:00 am - 9:00 pm (last entry at 8:30 pm) between March 28 (Wed) and April 15 (Sun); Closed: Wednesdays *May change depending on the time of year; Entrance fee: 700 JPY/adult *An additional joint ticket (250 JPY) to enter the Natural and Cultural Gardens and Japanese Garden is required; Parking: Approx. 4,300 spaces (400 JPY/120 minutes, 600 JPY/120 minutes on weekends and holidays); Access: 5 minutes on foot from Bampaku-kinen-koen Station on the Osaka Monorail＞
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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