Aichi Expo 2005: Events, Exhibitions & News 愛知万博
Princess Masako Tours Expo
July 21, 2005
In her first official duty outside of Tokyo in some 20 months, the Crown Princess and her husband the Prince visited the Expo yesterday. Wearing a beige jacket and white slacks, the Princess visited the British Pavilion and the remains of a Siberian mammoth in Global House.
Because of bouts with depression, Masako-sama has cancelled many of her official duties. A flap broke out in the media when the Prince implied strongly the the Imperial Household Agency was to blame for her stress-induced illness. The media was thus not notified of the visit beforehand, and the couple spent only one day in Nagoya before returning to Tokyo.
Few Foreign Visitors
July 3, 2005
According to the Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan's largest circulation newspaper, the percentage of foreigners visiting the Expo is a disappointing 4.4 percent--or well short of the organizers' stated goal of 10%. Broken down by nationality, South Koreans were the most numerous at just under 20%. However, almost thirty percent of these are permanent residents of Japan. In second place were Americans, followed by Taiwanese, and then Chinese.
The survey was conducted last week. Of the 120,620 visitors to the Expo that day, only 5,302 were foreign.
Water, yes; Pet bottles, no
June 18, 2005
Starting today, visitors will be provided with water while they wait in line. With temperatures already pressing into the high eighties in central Japan, the Japan Association for the 2005 World Exposition is worried about dehydration. Pet bottles, however, remain banned. If you pour your pet bottle liquid into a paper cup, that will be accepted.
June 17, 2005
A teapot created by living national treasure Jozan Yamada slated to be exhibited at the Aichi Expo was stolen in mid-March. En route from the Aichi Prefectural Ceramics Museum to the Expo's Reception Hall, it disappeared. The 10.7 cm diameter pot was entitled "Tokoname Shizen Yuchachu" (Tokoname naturally glazed teapot). It was valued at 250,000 yen ($2295) prior to Yamada's being named a national treasure, and would no doubt command much more on the black market today. Officials notified the police and apologized to the 80-year-old Yamada.
Tommy Lasorda to Represent US at Expo
June 16, 2005
President George W. Bush has asked former Los Angeles Dodgers coach Tom Lasorda to represent the US as a delegate at the Expo from June 17-22. Lasorda, who is well known in Japan thanks to his long association with pitcher Hideo Nomo--and even a few television commecials aired in Japan--will be coming with Education Secretary Margaret Spellings and US Ambassador to Japan Tom Schieffer.
Basque Week Begins
June 13, 2005
The Spanish Pavilion will highlight the Basque region through Sunday of this week. There will be events held at 10:15 am and 3:50 pm daily.
Gondolas Out of Service
June 10, 2005
Gondola service between the Nagakute and Seto areas is down until Friday, June 17, while it undergoes repairs. In the interim bus service will be provided to carry visitors to and from the two areas.
Housewives 1 Expo Association 0
March 31, 2005
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and the Expo Organizers relented in the face of the "bento mob." The Expo organizers announced that they would ease restrictions on the bringing in of fresh food and boxed lunches (o-bento). Store-bought bentos will continue to be prohibited; however, that staple of Japanese tv drama and school life--the almighty boxed lunch, or bento--will be allowed. Families with children in particular complained vociferously until the ban was lifted.
The ban was originally put in place under the pretext of preventing food poisoning. Mothers revolted, and it has been lifted. Now, however, the vendors at the site are furious.
VIPs Pour In
March 30, 2005
To date, French President Jacques Chirac, Kenya's Nobel Laureate Wangaari Maathai, environmentalist Lester Brown, and other VIPs have visited the Expo. On the 29th, more than 70,000 visitors came in the rain. Both Maathai and Brown touched on nature in talks they gave. Brown in particular emphasized the need for geothermal and wind based energy.
Day Two: Major Glitch Number One
March 26, 2005
At midnight on the 26th, Expo officials will stop handling online reservations due to sheer demand. Until then visitors were able to book reservations from either a PC or a cell phone for both the pavillions and events. However because of tremendous demand in the buildup to the opening of the six-month long Expo, the online system was overwhelmed and in effect crashed. It is now scheduled to return on April 2nd. According to officials, the number of people going online to make reservations has grown by tenfold compared with a month ago.
Expo Opens on 25th
March 25, 2005
The first Expo of the 21st century opened today just outside of Nagoya. In attendance were the Emperor, Empress, Crown Prince Naruhito, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, and about 9000 guests. Most of the pavillions are complete; on several, however, the paint, literally, was drying as visitors entered on day one. The opening ceremony included the singing of kimigayo, Japan's national anthem, and the rendition by an international orchestra of "I'll be Your Love," the Expo theme song. The most popular exhibit appears to be that which houses the remains of a frozen mammoth.
Mammoth Butt to be Displayed at Global House
March 9, 2005
The rump of a mammoth found in Siberia will be put on display at Global House during the Expo. The massive rear-end is believed to be the only remaining mammoth buttocks in the world. It consists of a tail and was found in frozen tundra in the Arctic Circle in 2003. According to Tokyo University professor Takashi Hamada, both a sex organ and the anus are also intact. Hamada said that, "It will be a valuable opportunity to study mammoth anatomy." The mammoth became extinct about 10,000 years ago.
Visa Fees to be Waived for Expo
February 13, 2005
The government has decided to waive the 000 visa fee for tourists visiting Japan specifically to attend the World Expo. The waiver, which will cover visitors from 58 nations, will go into effect on February 28th. It is aimed in particular at visitors from Asian nations, especially China, Russia, and Southeastern Asian countries. The waiver is good only for short-term visitors--who are prohibited from working in Japan--and will be verified at immigration by checking travel itineraries.
Homeless Cleared Out of Nagoya Park in Runup to Expo
January 25, 2005
On Monday, 600 municipal employees, government officials, and security guards descended on a park in central Nagoya at 8 am to forcibly evict the many homeless people living there. The makeshift homes--mainly tarps--were confiscated. It is believed the move was to clean up the city prior to the March opening of the Expo. Nagoya has two city shelters that can house 350 people. There are currently 207 people living in these facilities.
Bacchus to Party at the Expo
January 23, 2005
The Roman God of wine is coming to central Japan. A statue excavated from Roman ruins in southern Italy will be on display at the Global House main pavilion of the World Exposition. The marble statue is 1.6 meters tall and is thought to have been made in the first century AD--and subsequently buried when Mount Vesuvius erupted in the fifth century. The statue depicts Bacchus wearing a crown of grapes and holding a leopard.
VIPs on the Way
January 18, 2005
The Japanese government is planning on using the Expo as an opportunity to lobby the many foreign dignitaries who will be swinging through Aichi during the March to September Expo period. Calling it "Expo Diplomacy," the government reports that VIPs from 40 countries are planning to visit, mainly on their respective national days. Among those scheduled to come are Germany's Gerhard Schroeder, France's Jacques Chirac, and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Tokyo is also considering inviting Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao. In addition, many African leaders will be coming. According to a senior Foreign Ministry official, "The Expo will give Japan a great opportunity to obtain greater support from foreign countries for permament membership on the Security Council."
The Dancing Satyr to Be Exhibited
January 15, 2005
The Dancing Satyr, a Greek bronze statue found off the coast of Sicily in 1998, is to be displayed at the Expo. The statue was found after lying under water for some 2,000 years. It will be on display at the Tokyo National Museum from February 19-March 13, which is the first time it has been in Japan. Thereafter it will be on view in Aichi.
Ze Dirigible! Ze Dirigible!
January 12, 2005
No, Herv Villechaize was not on hand as Tatoo welcoming a boatland of pleasure-seekers to Fantasy Island. Instead, on January 12th, a shivvering press corps was stationed in Kobe's bitter cold port to greet the Aichi Expo 2005 dirigible as it safely landed after a trip that began in Italy and passed through Shanghai and many other cities around the world. With EXPO 2005 AICHI JAPAN and the two Expo characters printed on the underside of the Zeppelin NT, this was more PR for the big event. After passing through customs at Kobe port, the 75-meter long craft was scheduled to continue on to Aichi, but was grounded by high winds. From March to Septemberduring the Expothe Zeppelin will fly over Tokyo and Yokohama, and then Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe. This is the same dirigible that circumnavigated the globe 76 years ago.
Prime Minister Koizumi to Plug Expo in TV Commericals
December 30, 2004
According to a recent government poll, 44% of Japanese are unaware that the Aichi Expo is set to kick off in March. In an attempt at remedying that, PM Junichiro Koizumi will the hit airwaves in a commercial plugging the event. It will begin airing in mid-January in Japan, in 117 countries and regions worldwide at a later date. In the foreign version, Koizumi, speaking in English, says "Nature is the key. Come and discover the future in Japan." The total cost of filming, which took place in November, totaled 1.6 billion yen ($15.5 million).
Sony to Show Off Laser Theater at Expo
December 25, 2004
The Sony Corporation plans on displaying at the Expo a high-definition laser projector that is currently under development. Sony's Laser Dream Theater is outfitted with a a projector that shows images that are nearly twice as clear as those produced by cathode-ray tubes. It accomplishes this by combining red, green, and blue lasers in its patented GXL system. The screen is 10 meters (33 ft) high and 50 meters (164 ft) wide.
Ian Thorpe Unveils Aussie Mascot
November 14, 2004
Olympic swimmer Ian Thorpe was in Tokyo in September to unveil the mascot for Australia's Expo Pavilion. Australia sponsored a nationwide contest to choose a name for its Pavilion. Yutaka Fukui, an 11-year-old from Shizuoka, was chosen the winner for her Kamone, a giant orange and purple platypus. The word evokes 'kamonohashi', or 'platypus' in Japanese, as well as being - apparently - an abbreviated rendition of the English words 'Come on nature' (ka mo ne-cha). Fukui and her family have won a trip to Australia. Australian Pavilion Director Peter Ford praised the choice as being a perfect fit with the overall theme of the Expo: 'Nature's wisdom'.
Visa Waivers During Expo
October 12, 2004
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi instructed Cabinet members in September to consider how to expand the number of countries whose citizens may enter Japan without a visa during the Expo. Taiwan may be included in the list. Chinese junior high and high school students were recently exempted.
Robots to Comfort Lost Children, Guide Foreigners
January 9, 2004
Thus read the lead of an early January article in the Asahi Shinbun on next March's Expo. The Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry announced that 50 next-generation robots with the ability to judge their surroundings and move without bumping into things will be put to use at the March 2005 Aichi Expo in a trial run.
The Ministry hopes to have them in use throughout Japan by 2006. The robots will be able to comfort lost children and guide English- and Chinese-speaking tourists in their native languages. With an eye on the nation's low birthrate and decreasing number of children, the Ministry spent $30 million to develop the robots in time for the Expo. Nine robots will pick up trash and clean (Clean-Up Robots), eight will work security detail and guide visitors after dark (Security Robots), 15 will talk to children at a nursery (Communication Robots), and some 20 will be on hand to help those with disabilities get around the Expo (Intelligent Wheelchair [Robots]).
To make sure that the test run is safe, each robot will have a human partner with it at all times.
Expo to Feature Frozen Siberian Mammoth
According to the Daily Yomiuri, the 2005 Aichi Expo will display part of a completely preserved adult mammoth found in the Russian Republic of Sakha. Russia and Japan have agreed to display the head of the mammoth at the Expo. Secretary General of the Japan Association for the 2005 World Exhibition Toshio Nakamura traveled to Russia where the head is currently on ice in a laboratory freezer in Sakha and negotiated with federal and local governments over a rental fee for the creature that became extinct 10,000 years ago.
School Trips to the Expo
Organizers of the 2005 World Exposition are selling the Expo as a destination for the annual school trip all Japanese junior and senior high school classes take. Pamphlets have been sent out to more than 10,000 schools across the country, and visits to schools in Tokyo and Kansai are planned for April. The sales pitch is that, instead of spending a day stuck in cabs in traffic between temples in Kyoto and then shopping the three days for t-shirts and plastic keepsakes why not come to the exposition, which will focus on the natural world and the environment. Some 130 countries are expected to participate.
Toyota Group Holds Groundbreaking Ceremonies for Aichi Expo
In preparation for the March 2005 opening of the Aichi Expo, the Toyota Group held a groundbreaking ceremony in early April. Toyota is the leading manufacturing concern in Aichi prefecture, with its home base in the prefectural capital Nagoya. In keeping with the overall theme of the Expo - the wisdom of nature - Toyota's pavilion will focus on, in the words of a company official, "the idea of mobility in harmony with environmental concerns." Toyota will provide transportation around the Expo site. Fourteen units of the automakers new-generation urban transportation system - the "intelligent multimode transit system" (IMTS) - will be used on a specially constructed loop on the site.
Also, hydrogen-powered fuel-cell buses will shuttle passengers between Nagakute and the Seto areas of the Expo. In additon, there will be performances by Toyota-built robots. According to Shin Kamada, a managing director at the company, "Automobiles have plenty of potential for the future, but for Toyota to be a thriving company, we have to be a green company. Without environmentally-friendly technologies, we can't succeed." The Toyota Group Pavilion covers 5000 square meters (16,400 sq ft).
7 Million Tickets Sold in Advance
As of the end of March 2004, 7.04 million tickets for the 2005 World Expo had been sold. Seven million is just under half of the organizer targeted goal of attracting 15 million visitors. Most of the tickets were sold in Aichi - at a 20% discount - and organizers now are aiming to extend sales into the Kanto (eastern Japan: Tokyo and Yokohama) and Kansai (western Japan: Osaka, Kobe, and Kyoto) areas of Japan. Tickets are already on sale. Further details are available from the Expo 2005 official site.
The Japanese Postal Service has issued Expo 2005 commemorative stamps. The 80 yen stamps - the cost of a standard domestic letter in Japan - cost 90 yen, with the extra ten yen going towards charity. They feature two wood sprite anime characters: old granddad "Morizo" (mori = 'forest' in Japanese) and little "Kiccoro". Ten different types of stamps will be sold between March 10th and September 25th 2005. In one type, the pair floats in space with the earth in the distance. In a second, they are holding hands in front of cherry blossoms.