Artist’s Tower of the Sun to open permanently in 2014


The Yomiuri Shimbun

The interior of the late artist Taro Okamoto’s Tower of the Sun, a rarely seen part of the symbol of the 1970 Japan World Exposition held in Osaka Prefecture, is to be permanently opened to the public as early as fiscal 2014.

Inside the 230-foot is a 134-foot work of art called the Tree of Life, which was created by Okamoto while he worked on the tower.

“The Tower of the Sun and the Tree of Life are integral parts of the work,” said an expert, praising the move by the Commemorative Organization for the Japan World Exposition ‘70. “You can only really appreciate Taro’s message when you see them both.”

A representative of the organization said, “It’s a precious asset that lets people feel the atmosphere of the expo.” The organization manages Expo ‘70 Commemorative Park, home to the Tower of the Sun. “I hope many people will come and see it,” the representative said.

The Tree of Life was opened to the public in 1970 during the expo.

The Tree of Life stands inside the massive red-walled interior of the tower. Its steel branches, painted red, blue, yellow and green, once displayed about 300 models (now reduced to 85) of a monad, amphibian, dinosaur and so on, spiraling out from the root and ending with humans at the top, representing the process of evolution.

After the expo, the Tree of Life closed due to the huge maintenance costs and safety concerns.

The tower’s interior was partially opened to the public from 2003 to 2007 in response to public requests, but closed again after it was discovered that it did not meet earthquake-resistance standards.

The commemorative organization plans this fiscal year to begin structural renovations to make the tower earthquake resistant and replace an obsolete elevator with stairs so visitors can walk up as they view the Tree of Life. The Osaka city government will take over administration of the tower’s maintenance after the commemorative organization is disbanded in March 2014.

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