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An International Exhibition EXPO 2005 Japan

The history of international fairs presenting the achievements of mankind in various fields of science and technology goes back to the year 1851, when the first exhibition was held in London. Since then, up to World War II, international fairs were held in various cities in Europe and in the United States, usually every few years. Paris, for instance, was the venue of the exhibition seven times and Philadelphia - twice. In 1893, the world exhibition was organised in Chicago to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus. The exhibitions frequently involved significant construction projects. The first London exhibition was commemorated by the Crystal Palace - the work of Joseph Paxton. The Eiffel Tower was erected in Paris for the purpose of the exhibition in 1889. The Atomium, a construction presenting the structure of the atom, became the symbol of the first exhibition held after World War II, i.e. the Brussels fair in 1958. Since then, an idea has been accepted that each subsequent exposition would present a theme common for all participating countries. A shortened name, Expo, was also adopted for such fairs. The post-war exhibitions had the following themes: Expo '58 in Brussels - "Evaluation of the World for a More Humań World", Expo '67 in Montreal - "Man and His Worldland", Expo '70 in Osaka - "Progress and Harmony for Mankind", Expo '74 in Spokane (USA) - "Celebrating Tomorrow's Fresh Environment", Expo '75 in Okinawa (Japan) - "The sea we would like to see", Expo '85 in Tsukuba (Japan) - "Dwellings and Surroundings -Science and Technology for Man at Home", Expo '86 in Vancouver V'World in Motion", Expo '92 in Seville - "Age of Discovery" (Poland participated in the fair for the first time after the war), Expo '93 in Taejon (South Korea) - "The Challenge of a New Road to Development", Expo '98 in Lisbon - "The Oceans - A Heritage for the Futurę", Expo '2000 in Hanover - "Man - Naturę - Technology". The theme of the fair that will begin in March 2005 in Aichi Prefecture, Japan, is: "Nature's Wisdom". The theme is especially suitable for the country whose inhabitants for centuries tried to live according to the laws of nature not always favourable to them. The awareness of nature and its changes has always been important in everyday life of the Japanese, in their aesthetics and art, which is still visible in the Japan of today.

The Japanese became interested in international exhibitions in Europe when their country was still rather unknown due to a long-term isolation. Japanese paper and wooden products were unofficially exhibited for the first time at the fair in London in 1862. The first official presentation of Japan took place at the Paris fair in 1867, where a replica of a Japanese house was constructed under the auspices of the Tokugawa Shogun governing Japan at that time. The exhibits, including lacquerware, paper products and ceramic ware, received a few awards. The Japanese exposition at the Vienna fair in 1873 was prepared under the auspices of the new government established after 1868, i.e. following the downfall of the Shogunate and the reinstatement of the Caesarean power. Traditional Japanese handicraft products were accompanied by one of the golden statues decorating the roof of the Nagoya Castle and a model of the Great Buddha statue from the city of Kamakura. 77 Japanese masters and instructors came to Vienna to learn new Western technologies. The first domestic industrial exhibition in Japan was opened in Tokyo in 1877. Since then, such exhibitions have been held every few years and accompanied by mass entertainment events. After 1936, the Japanese government planned to organise a great international exhibition but, due to the war, the plans were cancelled.

Thus, the first post-war international exhibition in Japan was held as late as in 1970 in Osaka, or, more specifically, in the city of Suita near Osaka. Then exhibitions in Okinawa in 1975 and Tsukuba in 1985 followed. Aichi Prefecture located in the vicinity of a large industrial city of Nagoya was selected as the venue of the subsequent presentation of the humanity's achievements in 2005. Aichi Prefecture is located in central Japan near the Pacific coast. From the historical perspective and also due to its role in the life of modern Japan, it is a very important region. Due to mild ocean climate, agriculture has always flourished on the Nobi Plain, adjacent to the mountains in the north. In the late 19th century the government greatly expanded the farmland by building a network of canals distributing water to less fertile uplands. Nowadays, however, agriculture is of secondary importance. Aichi Prefecture is, above all, Japan's third largest industrial area (following Tokyo - Yokohama and Osaka - Kobe). The City of Nagoya, located at Japan's most important historical trade route, the Tokaido Route (East Sea Route), was the centre of spinning and weaving industry in the 19th century. Here, in the period of Japan's modernisation, modern mechanised textile industry began to develop. Traditionally, the areas adjacent to Nagoya were also famous for artistic and functional ceramics (the city of Seto). Very soon, however, Nagoya became the centre of metallurgy and chemical industry. In the 20th century, the production of vehicles commenced in Toyota City. Oil refineries, and later, aircraft production plants and arms industry developed in the area. This is why Nagoya was almost completely wiped out following American bombing in 1945. However, it was rebuilt as a modern city soon after the war. The architects used boldly the space left after the removal of ruins to build wide streets. The network of motorways and railways was expanded. The Nagoya of today is a large, dynamic city with 2.2 million inhabitants. To the Japanese, however, Aichi Prefecture means something more than just a huge industry. The Aichi area covers two historical provinces: Mikawa and Owari. Three great warriors who played an important role in the unification of Japan in the 16th century following almost three centuries of feudal wars came from this area. Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi, his successor, came from Owari. The province of Mikawa was home to Tokugawa Iyeyasu, who unified Japan in 1600 under his rule and founded the Tokugawa Shogunate that governed the country until 1868. Thus, the legend of courageous samurais from Mikawa is still alive in Aichi. Numerous monuments, especially those located in the city of Okazaki, in the vicinity of Expo 2005, depict their deeds. Expo 2005 in Aichi will surely present not only the latest scientific and technological achievements, but also a colourful tradition of the region, rich folklore, products of the bygone culture and a futurist vision of the world, in accordance with the spirit of bold resourcefulness and courageous activities omnipresent in Aichi.

Expo Aichi exposition sites cover two areas: larger Nagakute Area of approx. 158 hectares and smaller Seto Area of 15 hectares. Nagakute Area will feature, among other things, international pavilions. They will be grouped into six Global Commons, representing continents. The Global Commons will be connected by an extraordinary walkway known as the Global Loop. The designers promise that the walkway will provide access to all sectors without any impact on the natural landscape. A gondola route will provide access to Seto Area and will enable the visitors to admire beautiful forests with numerous ponds and small lakes. From March 25 to September 25, this natural scenery will host participants from over 120 countries and international organisations, who will present their vision of the world, their technology and culture. Japanese organisers of the fair have selected a partner city for each participating country - Poland's partner city is Gamagori. Poland will present its assets in the fourth Global Common together with other countries from Central and Eastern Europe, including Ukraine and Lithuania. The theme of the Polish exposition is "See the Beauty".

Poland's participation in the exposition is organised by the Polish Chamber of Commerce. The objective is to present Poland as the country of wise coexistence of civilisation and nature, of art and lifestyle harmony, and of robust development. Poland wants to increase the number of Japanese tourists visiting the country and the number of Japanese investments. Additionally, Poland wants the Japanese to learn more about our country. The main sections of the Polish exposition will be devoted to Fryderyk Chopin, famous composer, and Wieliczka Salt Mines, while the symbol and the mascot of our exposition will be the Polish bison, selected by Japanese children from the partner city of Gamagori from many other proposals. Although Expo is not an exposition of products and companies, economic issues will be its important part. Polish regions will be in focus at the fair, including especially Wrocław and Lower Silesia, but also Pomorskie, Wielkopolskie, Małopolskie, Opolskie, Kujawsko-Pomorskie and Lubelskie provinces. May 9 will be celebrated as the Polish Day. During the performance of Polish artists Calisia grand piano will be presented, a shop with Polish jewellery will be open in the pavilion and the Week of Polish Products will be held in the city of Nagoya. Expo 2005 is a great chance for Poland, as well as for other participating countries, to present both technological achievements and investment opportunities but also attractive features of our nature and culture.

Dr. Krystyna Okazaki
Department of Japanese and Korean Studies Institute of Oriental Studies, Warsaw University