I did not know what to expect as I crossed the giant Erector Set
walkway that makes up the North Gate entrance of the 2005 World
Expo. I had never been to a World Exposition before and had little
information beyond the basics. This year’s event, held in Japan’s
Aichi Prefecture, in the city of Nagoya, invited the world to share
a bit of their lives, and offered two nebulous green wood sprite
mascots, Kiccoro and Morizo, to embody this year’s exposition
theme, “Nature’s Wisdom.”
Through Nature’s Wisdom, the Aichi Expo called for a worldwide
coalition to tackle a variety of global topics, such as finding
alternative fuel sources, exploring global-warming theories and
reconnecting man with his natural environment.
As the walkway ended, the Expo opened into a huge sprawling
landscape that led to 121 participating country pavilions, numerous
corporations, interactive attractions, theme park-style rides and
plenty of Nagoyan forest and multilingual directional signs. I felt
overwhelmed. It would have been wise to plan ahead.
I chose to stroll along the Global Loop. This route guided me
around a 1½-mile elevated track to six “Global Villages.” Each
village grouped countries by geography with each pavilion (country)
offering its best in tourism, art, creativity, tradition,
technology, food and its vision for a world community.
My favorites included the German Pavilion, where I had a chance
to share my smattering of German, and the African Joint Pavilion,
where I enthusiastically chatted about world music with Angolan
natives. Some of my other favorite pavilions included Singapore for
its beautiful glass rainforest; Lithuania for a double helix of
scientific humor; Austria for toboggan rides; and Djibouti for just
being there. Sadly, the United States’ Benjamin Franklin
extravaganza was entirely forgettable. I preferred Canada’s
While cultural exchange is a major part of any exposition
experience, just as in previous expositions starting with the alarm
clock (1851), the telephone (1876), the Eiffel Tower (1889), the
Ferris Wheel (1893) and yes, hot dogs and hamburgers (1904)
technological advancement is the star of the show.
New hydrogen-powered Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle (FCHV) buses run
pollutant-free and shuttle visitors between venues. A combination
of plants and other organic materials make up a highly
biodegradable material called Biomass Plastic and make up all of
the utensils used at the food courts, while garbage from the Expo
is converted into power to operate the Japanese Pavilion.
What I was most impressed by, however, were the innovations that
bridge the gap between man and machine, like Toyota’s unforgettable
marching band ... of robots! As I later discovered from Soya
Takagi, senior general manager partner Robot Development Division
of Toyota Motor Corporation, Toyota has already created robots that
can hammer nails and perform other sophisticated work, but no one
wants to see that. So they made a marching band instead.
By the end of my stay at the Expo, I was tired. There is a lot
of walking and lines to stand in and it’s nearly impossible to see
it all in less than three or four days. Visitors should look for
gondolas, global trams and unmanned buses as options for combating
a day of walking.
Getting to the Expo is easy even though there is no car park at
the site. Clients should go to centrally located Nagoya Station and
take the JR Nagoya Station line to Banpaku Yakusa Station. The
Meitetsu Bus Center, also at Nagoya Station, offers shuttle service
directly to the East Gate of the Expo’s Nagakute Area as well.
Either ride takes about 40 minutes. Nagoya Station is also a
central hub for travelers looking to explore Japan beyond the
The World Exposition will run March 25-Sept. 25, with ticket
prices ranging from approximately $15 for children ages 4-11 to
about $45 for adults. There are discounted tickets for juniors
under 18 and seniors over 65. Wholesale ticket options exist in
limited supply from a U.S.-based wholesaler, JTB USA.
|WHERE TO STAY|
Nagoya Tokyu Hotel offers quality rooms and
business amenities with accommodations Westerners will find
comfortable. Prices start at about $130.
The Sunheights Hotel Nagoya has smallish rooms
and basic accommodations for the budget traveler, starting at only
Both hotels are a short cab ride to Nagoya Station, and both
provide 10 percent agent commission.
Nagoya is two hours of Osaka and Kyoto by train.
Japan National Tourist Organization (JNTO)
2005 World Exposition
310-406-3200, ext. 706
|TIPS FOR TRAVELERS|
I noticed disabled travelers smoothly navigating all of the Expo’s
paths and pavilions.
Remind business travelers to bring loads of business cards to
participate in the Japanese custom of business card exchanging.
This will also help weary visitors to remember unfamiliar Japanese
Trains, subways and strolls after dark are much safer in Japan
than in the U.S. Crime is a highly unusual occurrence.
Remember tipping is not part of the Japanese culture.