Faculty Lecture: “Future City and Hidden Apocalypse: Researching the 1970 Osaka Expo”

The base of Okamoto Tarô's iconic "Tower of the Sun," in the Festival Plaza of the 1970 Osaka Expo. Photo from Minami Nakawada, ed., Expo '70: Kyôkagu: Ôsaka bankoku hakurankai no subete (Daiyamondosha, 2005).
The base of Okamoto Tarô's iconic "Tower of the Sun," in the Festival Plaza of the 1970 Osaka Expo. Photo from Minami Nakawada, ed., Expo '70: Kyôkagu: Ôsaka bankoku hakurankai no subete (Daiyamondosha, 2005).

Will Gardner, Associate Professor of Japanese Tuesday, February 24 • Scheuer Room • 4:30 pm (reception at 4:15)

The 1970 Osaka Expo was the first world’s fair in an Asian country and, with over 64 million visitors, the most heavily attended world’s fair in history. Harnessing the talents of many of the most innovative Japanese architects, designers, artists, and intellectual leaders of the postwar period (including writers, critics, and scholars), the Expo presented an eye-popping vision of a “future city,” with new paradigms for daily living, including public and private space, transportation systems, media environments, and computer-aided infrastructure. Yet despite its official theme of “Progress and Harmony for Mankind,” the Expo also revealed the limits of the postwar ideals of social harmony and economic development, and harbored a undercurrent of apocalyptic imagination. Focusing on the themes of “future city” and “hidden apocalypse,” my faculty lecture will give a preliminary report on my research into the conceptual background, contemporary reception, and ongoing cultural resonance of this event.

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One thought on “Faculty Lecture: “Future City and Hidden Apocalypse: Researching the 1970 Osaka Expo””

  1. Your paper sounds very interesting. I myself in the process of researching world fairs in relation to the “mood” of the time it is made.

    Is it possible to read your report on the Osaka 1970?

    regards,
    RA

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