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gary h

PORTOPIA 81

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Just a FYI. In 1981, the city of Kobe hosted an exhibition called PORTOPIA, to commemorate the completion of a series of new manmade islands in their port. It resembled a small World's Fair in many respects, although it was technically a regional exposition.

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Some stats: it ran 6 months, the expo area was 106 acres, had over 16 million admissions, had 32 large corporate pavilions with world's fair size and style exhibits. It had 4 buildings for international displays (with one entire building basically a international shopping center).

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It had large scale outdoor performances, international days and, even though less than 200,000 of the 16 million visitors were non-Japanese, an abundance of signs in English (even though many of those foreigners were Chinese and Korean!) And an amusement area,theme pavilion, aquarium and planetarium, to boot!

A couple of interesting notes: In the middle (like a doughnut hole) of the expo was a huge hotel and office complex, which expogoers navigated past through tunnels and one disneyland-like "main street" which funneled visitors through a narrow byway, but gave them something to do and see - and buy - along the way.

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Many of the exhibits look like precursors to the 1985 Tsukuba Expo (which had a display at Portopia)

Portopia was, in fact, most like the industrial section of a larger fair (think NYWF6465 or Expo 70)

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But Portopia also had the marking of a national scale fair - there were a large leisure park, pools to swim in, displays by local amateur radio clubs, etc. and one entire building given over to state fair-ish, self promoting displays of every prefecture , it seemed, in Japan.

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I got these photos out of a huge retrospective book on Portopia.

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There is a huge crease running down the above photo - I put it in because it's the only one I have that shows the entire site - nothing is really lost of the main exhibition area - most of the crease is where some of the park and amusement area were.

There is very little info in English on this fair and organizations like the B.I.E. don't even mention it.

Just thought it would be interesting to see. Enjoy!

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Thanks, Gary. I have a small folder on this buried away somewhere, but these shots were great. This was just shortly before I started working in Japan - sorry I missed it.

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The large building with the Earthdome and sundial is amazing, I wonder what it was for? Judging by the two accompanying pictures, it was a demonstration/video centre of some sort, but for what I wonder??

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And I wonder what that tall tripod thing is in front of the globe building. My first thought was "Foucault pendulum," but I suppose that would not work if exposed to the wind.

The colors of this brochure are brilliant - makes me want to crank up the time machine and visit with camera in tow.

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There appears to be an elevated transportation system circling the site. Was it built for Portopia or is it an extension of an existing rail service?

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I can't discern anything hanging from the framework, but obviously it is of great excitement, for there is quite a crowd gathered around it. Maybe another screen of some sort? No...again, not if exposed to the elements. Fountains wouldn't garner THAT much attention....hmm....

Also, Google Earth shows the building with the triangular roof and the bubble-shaped building still to be on the site. It is also conveniently rendered in 3D.

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The building above is now the Port Island Sports centre, housing, among other things, a 50 Metre pool.

Most exciting - The wikipedia link for Port Island in Google Earth mentioned that immediately after the island was completed (in 1981) they hosted an exposition called "Port Pier '81" Obviously this is Portopia, but I wonder why the change in name? Maybe an someone found it easier to say or write??

gary was correct in pointing out that it was a regional exposition, yet another wikipedia link confirms it as a trade fair.

expoboy - Another Wikipedia article says that the rail line was built the same time as the island, connecting it to the mainland as well as the fair site.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Port_Liner

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I wonder how those buildings and the site itself fared in the 1995 Kobe earthquake. Being that the area was landfill, I'd guess not too well.

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Woweeee.... I want to go there! That's the best collection of Fair architecture that we've seen after '64 and '67, isn't it?

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Here are some more photos and a Ticket stub I found on flickr:

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This is the building that has the unidentified large tripod framework next to it. The sundial can be seen in the foreground.

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That coffee cup is in the best tradition of World's Fair giant kitsch tongue.gif

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Hi, found a picture of the base of the tripod and it appears to be a Foucault pendulum.

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Also, just another pic of one of the industrial building's exhibit/movie.

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I was just searching on Portopia and your forum came up. I was there in 1981 with a traveling musical production of Hanna Barbara's "Flinstones on Parade" out of Burbank, CA. We performed at the fair for a few of weeks and I remember using the rail system to get to work. At the time we were the largest musical production on the road with 75 dancers and crew. I will have to get out my old photos and post some.

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I just noticed the posting of the picture of the base, and it is a Foucault pendulum for sure. It amazes me that it would work reliably in the open, subject to winds.

I wonder how they started it every morning. The one at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago was held to one side by a loose strap at night, and the strap was pulled to the side by a thin string. The action was started by burning through the string with a candle flame. When the tension was suddenly released, the strap dropped to the ground, and the pendulum swung free.

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