Tower of the Sun

09Mar11

This year marks the 100th year anniversary of the birth of Okamoto Taro, the creator of Osaka’s Tower of the Sun (太陽の塔), who is famous for proclaiming that “Art is explosion!”  The Tower of the Sun was the centerpiece of the 1970 World Exposition in Osaka and to mark the anniversary of Okamoto’s birth the Expo 70 Commemorative Park Pavilion Museum is holding a special exhibition through the 10th of April.  Since I live quite close to the Expo 70 Commemorative Park I often visit and no matter how many times I’ve snapped the Tower of the Sun I can never resist another shot.

The Tower itself stands 70 meters tall and during the 1970 World Exposition was housed inside a steel-truss structure called “Big Roof” that was designed by Kenzo Tange.  The inside of the Tower is hollow, and the tower houses an enormous artwork called the “Tree of Life,” essentially a kind of evolutionary tree with various creatures branching off of the tree and floating within the open space of the tower (sadly, the “Tree of Life” has been denuded of most of the creatures that used to grow from its limbs).  There are three faces visible on the Tower and by some accounts the face on the back (made from Shigaraki tiles) represents the past, the face on the front represents the present, and the golden face on the top is the “Sun of the Future,” though that’s not quite the official Expo 70 story.  There is also a face inside the tower that is called “The Sun of Myth” or “Sun of the Underworld.”

Photographs, in order of appearance from top to bottom:

1) The Tower of the Sun during special winter illuminations held at the Expo 70 Commemorative Park.  The streaks of light are lit-up balloons on strings spread out across the lawn in front of the Tower.  (Fujifilm GF670, Kodak 160NC)

2) A wide-angle view of the tower on a sunny day, taken almost from directly below the tower.  (Voigtlander Bessa-L, 15mm Heliar, Fuji Neopan 1600)

3) Miniature Tower of the Sun in white plastic.  You can buy these at the Expo 70 Commemorative Park, or at any of the Okamoto Taro museums in Japan.  I also have one in silver.  (Nikon D70)

4) A view of the back of the tower, showing the Sun of the Past.  This was taken from a large concrete lot at the Expo Park where flea markets and festivals are often staged.  (Voigtlander Bessa-L, 15mm Heliar, unknown film, cropped)

5) A fisheye view of the Tower in winter, when the grass has turned yellow because of the cold.  (Lomo Fisheye II, Superia 400)

6) The face of the Tower on a sunny day during plum-blossom season.  (Holga 120CFN, Fuji Professional 400)



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