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Special> Video> Beijing Review Exclusive
UPDATED: June 23, 2010 Web Exclusive
Inside the Japan Pavilion

Adopting a structure that breathes like a living organism, the Japan Pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo stuns its visitors with the latest technologies, including an advanced sewage purifying system that can produce drinking water, chargeable automobiles and a robot that plays the fiddle with its ingenious hands. People often have to queue three to four hours to enter the pavilion. So far, the Japan Pavilion has been one of the most popular national pavilions on the Expo site. Beijing Review reporter Miao Xiaoyang recently visited the venue and found out the secrets behind its popularity.

Reporter: Why do you want to go to the Japan Pavilion? What do you want to see the most?

Tourist One: I want to see Japan's advanced technologies.

Tourist Two: I want to see robots.

Tourist Three: I have been to Japan before and I really want to see the technologies and culture that are unique to Japan.

Noriyoshi Ehara, Director of the Japan Pavilion: Since the Shanghai World Expo started more than a month ago, of every nine Expo visitors, one has visited the Japan Pavilion. We have to receive tourists batch by batch. One batch of visitors, about 600 people, needs one hour to have a tour of our pavilion. We receive 36 batches every day and received 21,600 people on our busiest day so far.

Aside: The shape of the Japan Pavilion evokes a silkworm cocoon, which gives the building its nickname, "purple silkworm island."

The nickname was chosen from about 3,600 submissions received in response to a general call for entries in Japan and China. Purple is considered to be a color of elegance and longevity in both countries. Silk thread made by silkworms is one of the symbols of the connection between the cultures of Japan and China, while Island implies it is a platform for communication and cooperation between the two countries.

Noriyoshi Ehara, Director of the Japan Pavilion: The Japan Pavilion adopts the concept of eco-breathing architecture, highlighting the high-level use of natural energy to adjust its indoor temperature. The construction of the pavilion features the use of natural resources, like rainwater, sunlight and wind, to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

The three huge columns and three pits constitute an eco-tube system, a major eco-friendly design of the pavilion. Sunlight is let into the pavilion with the use of eco-tubes. The tubes also accumulate rainwater, and the entire building is cooled by spraying the accumulated rainwater on the roof. Heat dissipation through water spraying and shades reflects traditional Japanese wisdom in architectural design. Moreover, the exterior of the building is covered by double-layered cushions of ETFE, a new material with high light transmission. The structure also integrates the world's first built-in amorphous solar cells to generate electricity for the pavilion. Our building is generating power on top of reducing power use.

Aside: The pavilion's exhibition area is divided into three zones, respectively focusing on Japan's past, present and future. Exhibits that can be seen, touched and heard in the three zones show tourists Japan's traditional culture and arts and the development of the country's latest technologies.

In Zone 1, where visitors can take a walk through the past, elements of traditional Chinese culture can be seen everywhere. Under the theme of "Wonders of Connections," exhibits in this zone focus on the history of Japanese envoys traveling to China in the Tang Dynasty (618-907) and bringing back culture from China. An important piece of art on display is Nishijin Textile, one of Japan's most distinguished crafts with a history of 1,200 years. The special way of weaving fabrics absorbed embroidery skills created by Chinese court weavers during the 15th and 16th centuries.

Zone 2 shows Japan's four seasons, daily life of the Japanese and the urban life of Japan's city dwellers (divided into four parts for family activities, sports, dances and rainy days). Also highlighted in this zone are Japanese solutions to humanity's major global challenges, such as the latest energy-saving and water-saving technologies. There is also a futuristic "zero-emission town" in Zone 2, a municipality that emits no carbon dioxide at all, which is presented through physical exhibits. Visitors can see models of more than 20 kinds of environmental technology, including an eco car, a power-generating floor, a household fuel cell unit, a power-generating window and organic electro-luminescent lights.

Noriyoshi Ehara, Director of the Japan Pavilion: Economic growth will enable people to realize the dream of "Better City, Better Life," but economic growth alone cannot guarantee "a better life." I think the exhibitions of the China Pavilion and other national pavilions have illustrated to the world the connotations of the "Better Life" advocated by the Shanghai World Expo. I think the deeper meaning of this theme is to highlight that the goal of economic development lies in protecting the environment on our planet. This is a topic of landmark significance.

Aside: The two most eye-catching exhibits in future-oriented Zone 3 are the "Wonder Camera" and the "violin-playing robot." As a future concept model developed by Canon, the "Wonder Camera" automatically identifies smiling faces when shooting video while also functioning as an ultra-high-definition and ultra-telephoto still camera. When the video shot by the device is projected on the big screen, the audience cheers and applauds loudly for its high-definition effect.

The robot that can play the violin is a "partner robot" developed by Toyota Motor Corporation to support people's activities by helping out with nursing and medical care and with housework. The robot's violin rendering of the famous Chinese song Jasmine Flower shows just how delicate and ingenious its hands are. Moreover, there is a musical show on the theme of the crested ibis, an object of joint protection efforts by Japan and China and a symbol of the exchanges between the two countries. The show itself is a fusion of traditional Japanese Noh drama and Chinese Kunqu Opera, which highlights the deep connections between the two countries.

Noriyoshi Ehara, Director of the Japan Pavilion: The Japan Pavilion focuses on environmental issues. The musical show is on how Japan and China have been cooperating to save the crested ibis. We also display machines and devices related to environmental protection and dealing with global challenges.

The exhibition on water resource issues also reflects our theme "Harmony of the Hearts, Harmony of the Skills." The latest technologies displayed at our pavilion can convert sewage into drinking water. However, more important than researching and developing these technologies is people's awareness not to pollute water resources. Only be achieving the harmony of hearts and skills together can we realize a brighter future.

I believe that "Harmony of the Hearts, Harmony of the Skills" carries the same meaning as China's drive to build a harmonious society and its Scientific Outlook on Development.


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