Tokyo 2020 > Osaka, Kansai 2025
The 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, held in the summer of 2021, were an incredible achievement—a celebration of life during the darkness of the pandemic that will resonate for generations. But what can Osaka, Kansai learn from that sporting spectacle as it prepares for Expo 2025?
Kenji Kohashi is a former actor and film director turned event planner, producer, and creative director. He planned and produced the closing ceremony of the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics and serves as an event planning producer for Expo 2025.
Kota Iguchi is a motion designer and creative director who heads Cekai, a loose association of creatives based in Yoyogi, Tokyo. He specializes in motion graphics and is best known internationally for creating the “kinetic pictograms” at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. He is a member of the committee tasked with selecting a mascot for Expo 2025.
Why is it important for Japan to host Expo 2025?
Kenji Kohashi (KK): Big global events like the Expo and the Olympics and Paralympics have the power to bring the world together and to reroute people’s ways of thinking. If the 20th century was first the age of materialism—the pursuit of material wealth—and then the age of information, I think the 21st century will become the century of the soul, in which abundance will increasingly become understood as something mental, rather than material. Though it may seem unlikely given the transition period we’re in, I think Japan can become a leader in such an age, because the people of this country have always held nature and spirituality in high regard, all while incorporating cultural influences from around the world.
Kota Iguchi (KI): The 2020 Olympics and Paralympics revealed a lot about where Japan stands right now, for better or worse. [The Games] drove home how we need to keep our heads up and work together to make this country better. I think 2025 offers an opportunity to put that “new Japan” on display. Today’s society isn’t monolithic, so it’s fine not to convey some great unified message, but we still need some sort of goal. I hope the Expo can provide that.
At the Expo, what should Japan seek to create for or with the world?
KK: Expo 2025 will be a superb opportunity to once again soak up influences from all over the world and start interpreting and reconstituting them in our own way.
“Big global events like the Expo and the Olympics and Paralympics have the power to bring the world together”
What lessons do the Tokyo 2020 Games hold for the Expo?
KK: As producer for the Paralympics’ closing ceremony, rather than presenting some utopian vision, I wanted to show how the world is wonderful and beautiful already, and how seeing that is just a matter of perspective. Changing people’s mindsets and expectations is a goal that would also be valuable for the Expo to take up.
KI: One important lesson is to be ready to adapt to any circumstances. I also think Japan’s strength isn’t necessarily in creating something amazing to show off to the rest of the world, but rather in coming up with minimal solutions that connect people. In creating something like that, it’s OK to show humanity and weakness, rather than aim for something perfect.
How can co-creation, a major theme of Expo 2025, be achieved in an inclusive manner in the lead-up to the event?
KI: Co-creation is essentially about tolerance—the extent to which you can accept others for who they are while working together toward a shared goal. Collaboration allows you to discover new aspects of yourself and your work through other people. That inclusive spirit is at the heart of co-creation.
KK: It’s crucial that the preparatory events and other processes leading up to the Expo are designed and presented in a way that makes sense for both a local and a global audience—that people not directly involved with the Expo can get excited and perhaps be inspired to participate themselves.
Join | Sync | Act 2025
Japan Association for the 2025 World Exposition
As the world moves further into the 21st century, there’s change in the air.
The age of materialism and the information revolution are behind us, and we are entering a new age—one in which new ideas rule and people pursue ideals beyond economic growth.
We believe Japan, where people have valued nature and spirituality while drawing upon cultural influences from elsewhere, can make a positive contribution to this new world, bridging gaps and bringing the world together to solve global issues.
Japan's new ideas are set to be on full display at Expo 2025 Osaka, Kansai, Japan—a global gathering aimed not at national prestige, but inclusive dialogue, re-orienting mindsets, mutual tolerance, and achieving positive change.