Janos Gereben
Janos Gereben

Fellowship Title:

Expo ‘70: Hurry Up and Wait

Janos Gereben
May 4, 1970

Fellowship Year

May 1970


Wanda Gereben, wife of Alicia Patterson Fellow Janos Gereben, was asked for her impressions of the Osaka fair, to be passed on to others. These observations have been reprinted and distributed with the hope that they will be of benefit.

The following, I hope, are some helpful hints to your friends and relations who are planning to make their way to Expo this year.

Since one arrives in Tokyo, regardless from where they are coming, he must get to Expo by either train or plane. We found a neat dealy that we can recommend. The National Railway is issuing an excursion ticket for Expo visitors. One must ask for it as it is not advertised. You can get it and loads of other helpful information (all in English) at the Japanese Tourist Bureau (JTB) which can be found in any train station or near the Marunouchi Hotel. Here’s how it works:

Buy a ticket for the Bullet train (round trip) from Tokyo-Kyoto-Tokyo. With this, for a few extra bob, get a special excursion ticket which will take you not only to and from Expo but also to about 10 or 12 other cities including Osaka, Nara, etc. Kyoto, we found, was in fact more convenient to the Fair than Osaka. There are several good hotels across the street from the Kyoto train station and it is very convenient to walk across the street and commute to some exotic city in southern Japan for a day, look around, and zoom back to Kyoto in time for dinner. The trains in Japan are so clean, modern and efficient that the ride through the countryside is most pleasant.

Now to the Fair itself. Yes, you must see it. And yes, you must have more than one day there or simply don’t bother to go at all. Whereas, it is small in area compared to the New York World’s Fair, it is far more crowded and the lines are longer, or so it seems when you can’t strike up a conversation with the guy in front of you, unless, of course, you brush up on your fluent Japanese. So, for these reasons, I have divided the fair into two categories: the “Don’t Leave the Fair Without Seeing”’s and the “Don’t Bother To Stand In Line For”’s.

#1 Category


The U.S. Pavilion–The waiting line for this jewel can be as long as four hours, but we discovered the Japanese thin out around five or six o’clock and therefore the evening is a much better time to go. On one occasion, we were able to walk right in without waiting. The section on the American Indian is stunning.

The U.S.S.R. Pavilion–A long line for this one too. But you’ve got to see it for it is the first of the Soviet exhibitions we have seen this year (and we’ve seen a number of ‘um) which even recognizes some of the art work of that vast country. Although you’ll have to go through the Lenin bit on the first floor, the second floor is a must, to see some of the folk art and crafts. The third floor deals with the space program and of course it is interesting to compare with our own third floor exhibit for Apollo.

Germany–The exhibit for the most part is cameras and technical things and can be whizzed through in no time, but the Dome auditorium presents continuous ten and fifteen minute concerts in “perfect acoustics” which must be heard to be believed. If you happen to catch an electronic music concert, stay on (simply keep seated) to catch the next concert which will be classical. This dome is so designed that you literally sit in the middle of a sphere and the music comes from all sides, above and below you, better than sitting in the middle of an orchestra and an absolute must for any Hi-Fi bug.

Ricoh Pavilion–A surprise – but when you think you just can’t take one step further, head for Ricoh.

India Pavilion–Best exhibit for showing the good sides of India, although it leaves a credibility gap concerning their vast, unsolvable problems. But it is an excellent showing of art, crafts and exports in addition to a display on Buddhism and textiles which relates well to the Japanese. Go see.

The Theme Pavilion–If you can find the main entrance.

Mitsubishi Pavilion–Said by some Japanese fair goers to be the best exhibit at the Expo.

The Museum of Fine Arts–In four floors this exhibit (the only one for which you must pay extra to get in) presents a complete scope of art from 3000 B.C. to present date. The pieces are borrowed from every country in the world and presented chronologically. In my estimation, one of the very best art museums in the world and a pity to be wasted on Expo since most people don’t know it’s there and therefore, few visitors.

Japanese Folk Art and Crafts Museum–Next door to the Fine Arts Museum and free. Those persons interested in the Japanese culture should take this on in too.

Czechoslovakia–I enjoyed this one which for the most part is sculpture in glass.

FILMS – Some say there are too many films at Expo. Maybe they are right, but nevertheless, we saw some great ones. We saw some bad ones too, so the following is a list of our recommendations:

Fuji Group–If you have only time for one, make it this one. Don’t let the line scare you as the theatre is such that the crowds are moved continuously by a conveyor belt while watching the film. Our #1 recommendation.

Rainbow Tower–Put on by the Japanese tobacco people. The first part is a so-called “Smoke Show” which is plum awful. But sit through it anyway and catch the excellent film on “scenes of Japan.” It’s beautiful and includes a live geisha girl dancing in front of the multi-media screen.

Washington State

New Zealand


(All worth making an effort to see!)

#2 Category: “Don’t Bother…”


Japan–If you want to visit this one housed in five huge drum-like buildings, we recommend to take in drum #1 and then take the exit. It’s the only one worth the trouble.



United Kingdom







Nationalist China

(These last two are in a struggle for worst exhibit at the Fair.)

Exhibits To See The Architecture But Don’t Bother Going Inside:




Italy–long and confusing exhibit.

British Columbia–They’ve got a film inside–mediocre.



The Singapore Pavilion has a good park for a picnic if you are so inclined.

When you plan to go to the Fair, plan to arrive late morning or early afternoon, and stay through the evening. The mornings are full of large group tours and the locals usually go home around dinner time leaving the grounds fairly empty.

Many of the pavilions have several shows a day presenting their country’s folk dances in full costumes. Check the Japan Times for a daily schedule of Expo. We enjoyed the Canadian, Korean, and Thai dances very much.

The Theme Pavilion usually has a big show at 6:30 each evening. Check with any Information counter as to what the program is if you are interested.

The International Bazaar has some fair bargains.

Any exhibits not mentioned here were either not visited or left no memorable impression.

Hope this is some help in planning your day(s) at the Fair!

Sincerely yours,