Thursday, September 08, 2005

The Aichi Expo 2005

WARNING: If you haven't been to the Aichi Expo or would prefer not to know what are inside the pavilions or anything that goes on in there… please skip this entry. Oh and the entry might be a bit too long for some…

On Sunday morning, I boarded the airplane from the Kagoshima Airport and therefore escaped from the crazy typhoon #14 (there will be another entry for the typhoon). After I landed in Chubu International Airport (Centrair), I was overwhelmed by how hot it was. It wasn't much of the sunny and sweaty hot in Kag, but those really irritating humid, wet kind of hot.

Maybe it's because of the sudden increase of people flooding into the city for the expo, the garbage on the streets increased as well. Last time I came it was at least clean, but this time… ah…

Then I met up with Aki and Tanicchi for supper, had some nice yakitori and great agedashi tofu (it tasted almost like cheese!). We decided to get up early in the morning and meet again at the bus centre at 7:45 to board the shuttle bus to the Expo. The ticket was 1500 yen for roundtrip, about 200 yen more than the price for taking Rinimo shuttle train. (But, we were glad to have taken the shuttle bus because we were all able to sit, whereas if you take the train, there's a possibility that you would have to stand or rather squeeze with other people for 35 minutes or so.)

Next morning, Nami and I were so excited to see each other we chatted on the bus the whole time, but Aki and Tanicchi decided to catch some sleep (after they were late for the meeting time, and they blamed it on the typhoon…)
(LEFT: Nami and I posing in front of the Korean pavilion which was one of the most popular pavilions in the Expo. Becauese the Han-ryu Boom [Korean Craze] that's going on, many people in Japan are suddenly very much interested in Korea.

After we got off the bus, there were people herding us to the entrance… It was only 8:30 am, and we were already lining up to get in. It was at that point, Aki said that we'd better give up any hope for getting in the Toyota group, because there's no way we would be able to get in with this number of crowd. And sure enough, when we got in, there was already a long line of about 100 people lining up to get the ticket for reservation of Toyota group.

We first lined up to see the Orange Hall + Mammoth Lab. I already made reservation for it, but then Nami and Aki wanted to see it too, so we all went anyway. Before we got into the Orange Hall, they gave us this card with small pokey edge that has a hold for listening and we were to get the magnetic strip side facing all the red bars on the ceiling so we can hear explanation about each exhibit. The Orange Hall also had a high definition show of many beautiful places in Japan. Kyoto and Mt. Fuji were of course expected, but then suddenly I saw a rocket launch scene… hmmm it can't be?! And sure enough, it was our Kagoshima's Tanegashima Space Centre!! I was surprised that Yakushima was not on there, but oh well. After that we lined up to see all the interesting knickknacks that were collected from the Moon (the moon rock brought back by Apollo 17), and some technology used to navigate on the Moon. When we walked by the real size model of Mammoth, the lady there held up a sign for those people's ticket number ended with 06 or 80 can get a free photo postcard with the Mammoth. It turned out that Aki's ticket number ended with 80 so all four of us stood in front of the Mammoth as the lady who took our picture said:"Manmosu (Mammath in Japanese)" and we said:"Daisuki" ("We love it"). Aki promised to scan the photo and send it to us… We'll see how long it would take~ hee hee.
(LEFT: A musical performance in the Mongolian Pavilion. The big cello kinda like instrument is called "Matochin 馬頭琴" and we actually have a small one in our Museum in Kanoya! It was nice to watch it live. There was also a video montage of Mongolian Fashion show. Really cool stuff.)

Although we all gave up on the corporate pavilions, I did manage to make reservation for the Mitsui-Toshiba pavilion so Tanicchi and I went there when Nami and Aki went to line up for the Korean Pavilion (which was quite nice too I heard). The Mitsui-Toshiba was like a "futuristic casting system" where they take CG pictures of all of us and then put our faces on the characters, hence the futuristic casting. There were so many rules on how to put your face correctly so you can be photographed, and also to make sure there's no hair or glasses… I couldn't get my bangs out of the way, but then there's nothing I could do. Then we watched this short movie completely done by CG. The story line is basically how a crew living on this new planet found a sound echoing in the galaxy (which was the sound of ocean) but couldn't figure out what it was. Then they decided to go back and look for the source of the sound. And then encounter this mysterious girl who… (I had no idea what was going on because we were too busy looking for oursevles on screen.) Anyways, so there's the film with our group's people's faces on the characters!! It took me awhile to figure out where I was, but then I was surprised that I didn't realize it sooner! I was the girl who stands next to the Captain of the crew. And I had a nice sexy voice J hee hee But too bad we couldn't figure out where Tanicchi was. Either he didn't photograph well or we just completely missed him. The funny part about it was that a little boy (about 5 years old) had a sticker on his face. It was not a teeny tiny sticker, but a HUGE square one. So as his face appeared on the screen, everyone laughed while he was like:"あれ?あれ?" ("huh??") wondering why he was on the screen. And his character actually was quite big in the film too…lots of speaking. Hee hee it was hilarious.

The rest of the time we spent mostly going to the global pavilion. The Asia one was mostly comprised of souvenir booths. We went to the Yemen pavilion ONLY because Aki saw the TV program introducing Aichi Expo and that the Yemen people are "great" sales people. They would just put bracelets, rings and other things on your hands, and when you said you are not interested, they would just keep putting on more as you take the others off. Eventually, some people couldn't escape and ended up buying some things they might regret when they get home. Nami and I went in and started walking around, then this guy extended his hands holding this shiny bracelets and motioned to put it on my wrist. I quickly put my hands behind my back and shook my head. He kept saying:"Kawaii, Kawaii" ("cute" in Japanese) to Nami and I, but we just shook our head and said thank you then walked away.

To show my Canadian Pride, we also went to the Canadian Pavilion and checked it out. It was actually a lot better than what I expected. Heather had told me that it was kinda abstract and some people might not appreciate it. But I thought it was quite fitting for Canada. We lined up for about 30 minutes and then got in to stand in front of this wall of mesh. Then the show began with music and rainfalls, basically sound of nature. With visuals of northern lights, the Rockies, and the Niagara. After that we moved a bit to the other side and then watched another big screen introducing 6 ordinary Canadians (they said ordinary people, but I know better…) from Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal and Halifax and Charlottetown (Prince Edward Island) and their daily lives. One thing that's interesting to me was that the Charlottetown person was the lady who plays Anne in the "Anne of the Green Gable" musical play in PEI. Hee hee very Canadian indeed! After the show, we went into the other room full of computers with further info for the 6 cities and the 6 people. Then there were lots of postcards of Canadian nature for people to take. (yes, free!) I couldn't find my friend Teanna who was probably not working on that day. And I heard the rumor that if you told them you're Canadian, you can get a pin too… well, I did mention that I'm from Vancouver, but then there's no pin giving out… :p

Most of the popular pavilions were all full of people lining up. Nami (who had been to Germany 4 times and studied German) really wanted to get in the Germany one, but the waiting time was like 2 and a half hours just to get in. Too bad it was Theresa's day off, otherwise we would've gotten in with "connection" and enjoyed one of the few rides available in the Expo. We went to the Ireland one, which was quite nice too. Photos of Irish greens and the lambs… Also the Celtic crosses were there for people to take photos with. Then we lined up to see this short film introducing Ireland and the natural habitat…etc. We waited for about 25 minutes, but it was well worth it. I don't mean that the film was interesting (well, not bad), but the sitting was REALLY relaxing especially after walking all day long. It was like a couch, but then reclining so you can see the film projected onto the ceiling, and the speaker was right next to your ears (but Nami used her speaker as a pillow). The position was so nice and relaxing and soothing celtic music was playing in the background with the narration. We were too relaxed to hear what the narrator was talking about. Aki fell asleep (couldn't blame him) and woke up with a jolt for some reason, hence woke up Tanicchi who was also sleeping next to him.

We also went to the UK pavilion and it was quite interest as they have many biotechnology on how to observe nature and how to preserve the nature and all that stuff. They have hands-on things for you to play. Like a virtual book that you can just put your hand on the virtual page and do a page turning motion, the page will follow your hand and move on to the next page. (like the photo on the right!) The souvenir shops sold some tea and biscuits and stuff… but then they were mostly made in Japan (actually I think they were ALL made in Japan so what's the point of buying them there in the pavilion, right?)

Yeah the food… Since there was no outside food allowed in the Expo, we all had to buy lunch and supper inside. We had chicken curry with nan at the Indian Pavilion and supped at the main food court. I bought bibimba in the Korean booth… and it was only okay. The egg was very well done and there was no meat whatsoever. Hmmm… should've gotten bulgogi, at least it would've been hot.

We also went to the Italian one which exhibits some artworks and also the Italian brands... (most Japanese OL can relate to, easily) There was also this statue that was only on exhibit in this expo before it would go into storage or some repair or touchup or whatever... and then we walked in this room smelled REALLY nice... while we were walking, there was this little girl who stretched out her hands to touch this car shell... and her father jokingly said:"Miss, please refrain from eating the exhibit." And that's when I realized, "OMG! This car shell is made of CHOCOLATE!!!" No wonder it smelled so good!! hee hee leave it to the Italians to make an autobody into gourment~

Overall, it was a great experience, and I couldn't have enjoyed it more if I hadn't gone with my old friends from Shizuoka University, Aki, Tanicchi and Nami. They were awesome and we pretty much just had fun ourselves. The rain was never a problem, except when there were a couple of times I was very close to being poked in the eyes :p) Good time, man, Good time...

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