From origami to anime, the Japanese pavilion at Dubai Expo 2020 is a must-see

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The Japanese pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai
Image Credit: Clint Egbert / Gulf News

It’s 2 p.m. and a scorching temperature of 38 ° C, but as soon as you enter the Japanese pavilion at the Expo 2020 site, a gentle breeze greets you. No, we are not inside yet and there are no fans around. All thanks to origami, the Japanese art of folding paper, which inspired the design of the pavilion’s facade. Designed by Japanese architect Yuko Nagayama, the white exterior uses natural airflow to cool the pavilion.

The origami-inspired facade of the Japanese pavilion

The origami-inspired facade of the Japanese pavilion
Image Credit: Clint Egbert / Gulf News

According to Isao Ando, ​​director of the pavilion and deputy commissioner general of the Japanese section: “The facade brings together arabesque and origami motifs and represents the long-standing historical ties between Japan and the Middle East. The structure integrates the traditional energy saving systems of both cultures and can be seen as an example of sustainable architecture.

Now, if you aren’t already amazed, this is just the start.

The Japanese pavilion is located in the Opportunity pavilion at Expo 2020. Aiko Yabunaka, the pavilion’s secretary general, explained, “Our theme is ‘Where Ideas Meet’. We create an opportunity for people to meet and share ideas for a better future.

Aiko Yabunaka, General Secretary of the Japanese Pavilion

Aiko Yabunaka, General Secretary of the Pavilion
Image Credit: Clint Egbert / Gulf News

Personalized experience

Right from the start, you’ll enjoy a personalized visual treat. When we say personalized, we mean that each person has a different experience. Here’s how…

On the first floor, at the entrance, visitors are given a Sony smart device and open headphones. It will be your personal guide.

A smart device guides you through the pavilion

A smart device guides you through the pavilion
Image Credit: Evangeline Elsa / Social Media Editor

There is a blend of culture, history and technology with every step you take in the lodge.

At the start of your visit, you are asked to enter your contact details, such as where you are from, into the smart device. Then you are given a name or a character, mine was Hitorishizuka.

Each visitor receives a single virtual flower, a symbol of hospitality. Apparently, when guests visit Japanese homes, hosts place a single flower in a vase to welcome them. You receive it on the smart device.

A single flower stalk in a vase symbolizes hospitality

A single flower stalk in a vase symbolizes hospitality
Image Credit: Evangeline Elsa / Social Media Editor

Now begins your personalized journey which lasts almost an hour.

Five zones

The first zone is “Meet Japan”. Visitors enter a room that uses mist and technology to create an immersive experience, as if you were in parts of Japan. After learning about Japan’s journey through history, you are asked to choose a door based on your intuition.

Display shows kintsugi, the Japanese art of putting pieces of broken pottery back together with gold

The exhibition shows kintsugi, the Japanese art of reassembling broken pieces of pottery with gold – built on the idea that by embracing flaws and imperfections, you can create an even stronger work of art and more beautiful.
Image Credit: Evangeline Elsa / Social Media Editor

With every step you take, your device stores your behavior data. From the door you choose to the screens you look at in the second area called “Culture and History” and the time you spend at different points in the third area called “Innovation,” the smart device understands the issues that draw you the most. more and designs your virtual avatar, using real-time graphic art.

The third area is not just about high-end technology; instead, he drew inspiration from both nature and traditional culture. Here you can explore modern Japan and its future through a series of cute and elaborate miniatures using everyday items. It is inspired by a feature of Japanese poetry called mitate, which uses metaphors to allude to various things.

In the fourth zone, “Enjeux”, visitors walk through an infinite mirror room that juxtaposes their own images with those describing the social and environmental challenges facing the world today.

In the fifth area, titled “Where Ideas Meet”, visitors can experience the first stage in a 360-degree theater integrating cutting-edge data technology with graphic art generated in real time.

A 3-D display of the Earth

A 3-D display of the Earth
Image Credit: Evangeline Elsa / Social Media Editor

Video projections in these areas use an ultra-fine mist creating three-dimensional art in an unprecedented immersive experience.

Here you can finally see your avatar. The issues that interest you are displayed together, and you are grouped together with other people with similar interests. Now your character has a goal, for Hitorishizuka it was to build a society where no one is left behind, while another visitor was asked to focus on saving forests.

Japan is also the next country to host the World Expo in 2025. In the final area titled “Designing a Future Society for Our Lives – Expo 2025 Osaka, Kansai”, the section focuses on how ideas, actions and the challenges of people from all over the world can come together. Visitors are invited to share their ideas and messages to shape the next Expo.

The smart devices are returned at the end of the visit and according to the lodge staff, they are cleaned and disinfected after each use.

Meet an Astronaut or Enjoy J-Pop

If it’s not just tech that interests you, the Japanese pavilion has some interesting PR ambassadors that many are eagerly awaiting. Pokemon, anime character Gundam, Japanese pop group Kanjani Eight and astronaut Yamazaki Naoko will visit Expo 2020 Dubai and, according to Aiko Yabunaka, might even meet and greet their fans.

Another interesting thing to look forward to are the official uniforms designed for the pavilion staff. Designed by fashion designer Kunihiko Morinaga, the white suits are durable and glow pink in certain lighting. That’s not all, they are designed to represent the Earth.

And, good news for lovers of Japanese cuisine! A Japanese sushi restaurant is also part of the pavilion. The restaurant overlooks the beautiful white facade.


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