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April 2005

Expo 2005 Aichi, Japan

The eco-friendly Japan Pavilion, built using bamboo (PANA)

Under the theme of "Nature's Wisdom," the 2005 World Exposition, Aichi, Japan, has now begun in Aichi Prefecture. Expo 2005, the first World Exposition of the twenty-first century, is the second such event to be held in Japan, following the 1970 Expo, which was held in Osaka. The first World Exposition was held in London in 1851, and previous events have tended to focus on culture and industry. Expo 2005 is different: It is bringing the people of the world together to consider the amazing mechanisms found in nature and to transmit the message that we must preserve an Earth that can sustain various forms of life into the future.

The 173-hectare venue for the Expo was created based on the idea of being kind to the Earth. It is divided into the Nagakute Area and the Seto Area. Visitors use various futuristic and environmentally friendly methods of transportation to get between and around these sites. The Intelligent Multimode Transit System, for example, uses driverless buses that travel in a convoy formation. There are also hybrid buses that run on a combination of hydrogen-based fuel cells and a battery; these buses emit no harmful gases whatsoever.

Throughout the Expo venue, visitors can meet the two forest sprites that are serving as the official mascots of Expo 2005: Morizo and Kiccoro. Morizo is the forest grandfather, while Kiccoro is a young child of the trees. There are also many adorable robots that are not to be missed. At Mitsubishi Pavilion @Earth, visitors are greeted by the robot Wakamaru, which has a vocabulary of some 10,000 Japanese words. At the Toyota Group Pavilion, meanwhile, visitors can enjoy musical performances by a group of seven robot musicians. In addition, there are robots that sweep the floors, pick up the trash, and provide guidance in four languages: Japanese, English, Chinese, and Korean.

NEC's Papero robot can sing and dance. (PANA)

One of the most popular attractions at the Expo is the display of the frozen remains of a mammoth that was unearthed from the tundra in the Republic of Sakha, Russian Federation. This is the first time a frozen mammoth has ever been displayed at a World Exposition. The head of this creature that lived 18,000 years ago still has its long tusks attached, and other parts of the body can be seen as well. Many of the corporate pavilions, meanwhile, feature hi-tech exhibitions. There is the world's first completely spherical, 360-degree theater, as well as a three-dimensional, 800-inch video presentation that allows visitors to experience what it's like to ride on a superconducting, high-speed linear motor car traveling at a speed of 581 kilometers per hour.

Another extremely popular attraction is a re-creation of the house in which Satsuki and Mei lived in the well-known anime (animated film) by director Miyazaki Hayao, My Neighbor Totoro. This house is exactly the same as the one shown in the movie, and in it visitors can experience what it was like to grow up in rural Japan long ago. This exhibit is popular with kids, but also with many Japanese adults, who fondly recall their own childhoods when they see this wooden house set in a forest.

One of the main attractions of a World Exposition is seeing the exhibits of countries from around the world. More than 120 countries are holding exhibitions showing off their culture and accomplishments at Expo 2005. The pavilion of the United States, for example, marks the 300th anniversary of the birthday of scientist and diplomat Benjamin Franklin by having a 3-D representation of him serve as host. Franklin, who is famous for showing that lightning is a form of electricity, introduces visitors to the nature and scientific accomplishments of the United States.

The pavilion of Germany, meanwhile, takes visitors into the world of biotechnology, which involves making things using the functions of natural life forms. In the pavilion, visitors ride in a clear cabin and travel from a large cave into the sea and finally into the sky. At the pavilion of Canada, meanwhile, visitors can interact with people in Canada in real-time and make new Canadian friends. These are just a few of the thrills and excitement that people can enjoy at Expo 2005, which runs until September 25.

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