“It’s the Expo alright.”

It’s hard to believe that the 2025 Osaka/Kansai Expo is only about 500 days away, largely because not much really seems to have been built or decided about it yet aside from ticket prices. Nevertheless, our writer Masanuki Sunakoma was running a temperature of 100 degrees due to a serious case of Expo fever, so he was thrilled when he got the chance to go to the heart of it all in Osaka on a business trip.

Arriving at Osaka Station, Masanuki was greeted with a large number of advertisements touting that “The Expo is coming,” and “It’s the Expo alright.” Even the famous escalators from the 1989 Ridley Scott film Black Rain had a huge billboard for it.

It was after 6 p.m. and the station was packed with people whom Masanuki assumed were all chatting it up about the coming Expo. How couldn’t they be?

Then, he couldn’t believe his luck when he saw a store inside the station that exclusively dealt in Expo-related merchandise. The store was surprisingly empty given how busy the rest of the station was. It was almost as if the people were repelled by it somehow.

Masanuki assumed that everyone had already picked the store clean the moment it opened and already had their fill of merchandise. That suited him just fine because now he had the pick of the litter.

And what an embarrassment of riches it was! Nearly everything featured the likeness of the wildly popular mascot Myaku-Myaku which resembles a dripping blue humanoid with a red large intestine filled with eyes wrapped around its head.

It reminded Masanuki that the name “Myaku-Myaku” was selected in a contest where people could submit name ideas. One of his relatives entered with the name “Mitaday” and he was bummed that it didn’t win. That would have been cool.

Our writer talked with the store clerk and asked what the most popular items were. He was told that most people bought the Myaku-Myaku cookies and Myaku-Myaku cream-filled cat tongue cookies. These kinds of cookies are often bought as presents by travelers for friends and family back home, so a topical Expo-themed version of them is certainly a good buy.

Other popular items were the acrylic keychains that featured one of six stations on the Osaka Loop Line that runs in a circle through major points of the city. They were released to commemorate the start of Expo-themed livery on trains that run along the Osaka Loop Line and Yumesaki Line.

Masanuki bought one of those for 880 yen (US$6) along with a Myaku-Myaku sticker for 330 yen ($2.25) and Myaku-Myaku Sauce Katsu for 648 yen ($4.40) because they were the cheapest things there. Sauce katsu is a candy that simulates a fried pork cutlet covered in sauce but is really mostly made of bread and processed fish.

▼ Train station keychain

▼ Myaku-Myaku sticker

▼ Sauce katsu

The station keychains were sold in blind bags, so he excitedly opened his to see which one he got…

Masanuki: “Nishikujo Station…”

This store wasn’t the only thing going on at Osaka Station. There was also a section promoting the fact that tickets have gone on sale with a field of cardboard cutout Myaku-Myakus that people could take their picture among.

There was also a special promotion in which Masanuki received a free pen in exchange for following the Expo’s official social media account. He was handed a pamphlet and found the Expo’s use of periods at the end of all their slogans to be refreshingly low-pressure.

▼  “Here comes the Expo.”

The pen turned out to be his favorite souvenir of all. It was different from the ones they sold at the store too.

All in all, Masanuki could tell the preparations were well underway for the Expo, but the air there wasn’t exactly electric with anticipation for the event. Maybe it’s because it’s still 500 days away or maybe it’s because what’s going to happen there still isn’t clear and the budget seems to be rapidly swelling. Then again, it might just be that low-key stoicism that people in Osaka are so famous for.

Photos ©SoraNews24
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