The city of Osaka is undertaking a major redevelopment project on the artificial island of Yumeshima in preparation to host World Expo 2025. The $1.6 billion (235 billion yen) project will transform the underutilized industrial island into a lush expo site and eventually, a new urban hub.
Yumeshima was built on reclaimed land in Osaka Bay starting in 1977. Previously home to a waste disposal site and shipping container terminal, the island will soon be unrecognizable. Construction is well underway for transportation links, hotels, conference centers, residential areas, and the 155-hectare expo site.
A new 1 mile long bridge has been built connecting Yumeshima to the mainland. The Osaka metro is being extended with a new loop line and station scheduled to open in 2024. And an underwater tunnel provides vehicle access from Sakishima island.
The centerpiece of the redevelopment is the expo site featuring pavilions, plazas, gardens, and a massive wooden roof.
Designed by architect Sou Fujimoto, the innovative roof structure made of Japanese timber will span 700 meters in diameter. It will shelter visitors from sun and rain as they traverse between pavilions.
Over 150 countries are expected to participate in Expo 2025 from April to October 2025. The theme “Designing Future Society for Our Lives” will inspire creative solutions for issues like climate change and aging populations. Japan hopes to attract over 28 million visitors to the $1.6 billion expo.
Yoshimasa Hayashi, Minister for Foreign Affairs, stated “We will make utmost efforts as Japan to successfully host an expo that will amaze the world and leave a legacy for the future.”
With a few years until opening day, Osaka is kicking preparations into high gear. In addition to the expo site, new infrastructure, hotels, and attractions are popping up across Yumeshima. A new terminal will quadruple cruise ship berthing capacity. The 123 floor Osaka Yumeshima Tower will provide panoramic views. And an integrated resort featuring casinos will open after the expo.
Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura said, “I want to make Yumeshima a landmark that will lead to Osaka becoming a world tourist destination.”
After Expo 2025 closes, the site will be transformed into residential and commercial districts with the site’s cutting-edge expo pavilions retrofitted for new uses. Yumeshima will continue to develop as a global hub for business, research, tourism, and culture long after 2025.
The ambitious Yumeshima project represents Osaka’s big bet on the future. The prefecture is investing heavily in hopes of driving economic growth and revitalizing Osaka as a world-class city. If successful, Yumeshima may just be the catalyst that puts this ancient Japanese port city back on the international stage.