Expo 2005

Japan plays host to the world

By: Devin Galaudet

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 endeavor instead.

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 Expo.

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.


Nagoya Tokyu Hotel offers quality rooms and business amenities with accommodations Westerners will find comfortable. Prices start at about $130. (www.nagoya.panpacific.com)

The Sunheights Hotel Nagoya has smallish rooms and basic accommodations for the budget traveler, starting at only $63. (www.sunheightshotel.jp)

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


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 names.

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.

Adventure Travel JDS Africa Middle East JDS Destinations