The 2005 world exposition in Aichi Prefecture (Nagoya) Japan, was a six-month event, held March 25-September 25. Its theme was ecological: “Nature’s Wisdom.” 22 million visitors attended and 121 countries participated. The United States almost didn’t.
The Japanese government’s invitation to the US to participate at Aichi arrived at the State Department on September 17, 2001. On October 4, the Secretary responded that the US would not participate. This was primarily because the US Government (USG) was severely limited by legislation in its capacity to financially support participation in a world’s fair. The Government of Japan reiterated its invitation. Some two years after initially having declined, with the support of Ambassador Howard Baker the President gave his commitment to Prime Minister Koizumi on the occasion of a visit to Japan on October 17, 2003, that the US would “be present” at the 2005 World Exposition in Aichi, Japan.
Several months later, on February 13, 2004, the State Department issued an RFP inviting private US individuals, firms, associations and organizations (for profit and non-profit) to compete to create the US presence for Aichi 2005. The winning organization would have the authority to raise money for and develop and manage a US pavilion/exhibition covering 15,000 square feet. The Department indicated it would provide a letter authorizing it to proceed, on behalf of the USG raising the funds necessary to complete the project – then estimated at $20 million. I was named the Project Coordinator in the RFP and continued in that capacity throughout the endeavor.
A group incorporated as Aichi USA 2005 World Exposition, Inc. went through the RFP process and was selected after an expert panel was called to review its proposal. Following that review, a Letter of Intent was sent (at the end of March 2004) along with a list of conditions to meet before a Memorandum of Agreement could be signed. I put together the list of conditions based in part on comments of the review panel. On July 29, 2004, the US Department of State signed the Memorandum of Agreement officially tasking Aichi USA 2005 with raising all the funds necessary for the project and designing, building and operating the official US Pavilion.
Aichi USA 2005 raised more money ($32 million) and built a larger pavilion (22,230 square feet) than had been anticipated in the original RFP, enlisting 19 state partners and 56 corporate sponsors. Aichi USA 2005 was headed up by auto industry executive Douglas M. West. At the time, West was senior vice president of government affairs at Toyota Motor North America. More than half of the funding for the US Pavilion came from Toyota suppliers, including Coach, Rolls Royce, Dupont, and others (full list below).
Some eight-and-a-half breathless months later, on March 25, 2005, the expo’s opening day, the US Pavilion opened its doors to visitors.
The US Commissioner General was Lisa Gable, the first woman to hold that position in the history of US participation in world’s fairs. President Bush accorded her the personal rank of Ambassador for the duration of the expo.
The 22,230 square foot US exhibit was housed in a building provided by the organizers. The exhibits were produced by BRC Imagination Arts. Holloman Architects designed the building façade, a stylized rendition of the American flag featuring a 12-foot by 33-foot screen presenting America’s people, land, and culture. This was the first application of an outdoor large screen video on a US Pavilion.
The US Pavilion honored American statesman, diplomat, entrepreneur, and innovator Benjamin Franklin to showcase American culture, values, and technological achievements. Visitors followed an illuminated string of Franklin’s red kite (the kite motif evoked the famous story of his flying a kite in a storm to investigate the conduction of electricity) into “The Franklin Spirit,” a multimedia presentation which featured a virtual Franklin, returned to celebrate his 300th birthday and provide a uniquely American perspective on the “Nature’s Wisdom” theme of the expo.
Visitors next entered the American Journey gallery, which featured exhibits of American innovation from the past, present, and future. These exhibits included:
— A specially commissioned replica of the 1902 Wright Glider created by Orville and Wilbur Wright
— A 27 foot high display area where visitors could view same-day images of Saturn and its rings, received from NASA’s Cassini-Huygens mission
— A replica of the Mars Rover as well as live images of Mars from the real Mars Rover
— A fuel cell exhibit that featured a five-kilowatt GenSys(TM) stationary fuel cell manufactured by the National Fuel Cell Research Center
— A futuristic concept vehicle, AUTOnomy, the first vehicle designed from the ground up around a fuel cell propulsion system manufactured by General Motors
The US also presented a rich and varied cultural program. The New York City Opera performed Little Women and Madam Butterfly. Warner Bros. released its world premiere of “Batman Begins.” Visitors saw Texas country music legend Larry Gatlin, Mississippi blues guitar player James “Super Chikan” Johnson, Hawaiian ukelele player Jake Shimabukuro, a Native American dance ensemble from New Mexico, “West Virginia Boys” bluegrass band and Wayne State University jazz professor and performer Chris Collins. These and other performances played a crucial role in helping to showcase state and regional culture. Additionally, The US Pavilion cultural program afforded states the opportunity to invite sister city and sister state groups to perform on their behalf, further strengthening these special partnerships. Florida, Kentucky and Indiana took advantage of this opportunity.
A highlight of America’s Aichi 2005 expo participation was US National Day on June 20, a major media event that re-affirmed the bi-lateral relationship between Japan and the US. This celebration of youth gave visitors a chance to see a parade with the University of Southern California marching band, hear tenor Daniel Rodriguez sing the Star Spangled Banner, experience the Voices of Eve‚ N Angels (VOENA) children choir, and see a performance of Sesame Street Live. With the help of baseball giant Tommy Lasorda and former Texas Rangers president, Ambassador Thomas Schieffer, the day closed with events focused on baseball, a favorite American and Japanese pastime. US National Day was attended by a special delegation that had been named by President George W. Bush.
The US Pavilion also played host to business and political leaders from around the world in The Franklin Room, a VIP suite overlooking the entire pavilion floor. In the Franklin Room, the US pavilion facilitated international business and goodwill. It hosted 16 of the 19 state partners, eight of which had delegations led by governors (the number of state partners was a record that still holds). A US-Japan Innovation Summit was held focusing on mutual investment, cooperation and innovation.
There was extensive press coverage in national and local publications in the US and Japan, and total circulation was tabulated at 285,990,766 readers (media impressions) for newspapers and 65,067,186 readers for magazines, with more than 91 articles printed in Japan during opening weekend alone.
Attendance at the US Pavilion was 2,014,648‚ exceeding the initial target of 1.5M by more than 33% – and the pavilion was twice rated #1 in a survey conducted by a major television affiliate of the Asahi newspaper. Additionally, the US pavilion was honored with the Bronze Medal from the Expo Association.
Corporate sponsors, US Pavilion at Aichi Expo 2005:
American Airlines Cargo
DENSO International America, Inc.
Franklin Resources, Inc.
Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company
GST Auto Leather
Gulf States Toyota
Gulfstream Aerospace – A General
Harman International – JBL
Johnson Controls, Inc.
Mitsui & Co., Ltd.
National Association of Manufacturers
National Environmental Education and Training Foundation
National FFA Organization
National Fuel Cell Research Center in Association with the Pacific Rim Consortium on Energy, Combustion, and the Environment
National Science Teachers Association
Norfolk Southern Corporation
Ripplewood Holdings, LLC
Saatchi and Saatchi
Servco Pacific, Inc.
The George P. Johnson Company
The National Audubon Society
Tokai Rika Co., Ltd.
Toyoda Gosei North American Corporation
Toyota Tsusho Corporation
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Union Pacific Corporation
Joseph Phelps Winery
Comments Off on What will it mean to postpone Expo 2020 Dubai until 2021?
Comments Off on From Aichi in 2005 to Dubai in 2020, Christie technology helps spur innovation for over a decade of World Expos
Comments Off on The U.S. could be a no-show at Expo 2020 Dubai
Comments Off on Netflix and thrill: Greg Lombardo joins the content streaming powerhouse as Head of Experiences
Oct 20, 2020 Comments Off on Efteling to open ‘Nest!’ inclusive play area in 2021
Oct 20, 2020 Comments Off on InfoComm opens Call for Presenters, timeline for presentations extends beyond 2021 show
Oct 20, 2020 Comments Off on Georgia Aquarium opening one of the world’s largest shark exhibits
Oct 16, 2020 Comments Off on Triotech interactive walkthrough attraction headed to OCT’s Fantasy Valley
Sep 29, 2020 Comments Off on Christine Kerr: From operations to creative to entrepreneurAfter nearly two decades at BaAM, Christine recently made...
Sep 28, 2020 Comments Off on Alterface: Inside Action League, the interactive revolutionUnique mix of tournament, interactive gaming and motion
Sep 28, 2020 Comments Off on Vekoma: Forged in steel, tempered by imaginationVekoma opens two new intertwining roller coasters in
Sep 28, 2020 Comments Off on InPark exclusive: Anna Knight of Informa Markets discusses the 2020 Festival of Licensing and the attractions industryThe Festival of Licensing, is a month-long virtual...
Sep 24, 2020 Comments Off on InPark exclusive: Three key players talk about Crayola’s new interactive exhibit and the brand’s expanded LBE presenceThis tour represents the next step in a portfolio of LBEs...
Sep 02, 2020 Comments Off on Smaller attractions: Following the leaderHow smaller attractions stay competitive and innovative...
Aug 19, 2020 Comments Off on Nathan Jones: Continuing a journey of amazing attractionsFollowing a long track record at both WhiteWater and...
Jun 30, 2020 Comments Off on Right place, write timeHollywood screenwriter Bennett Yellin authors a new future...
May 18, 2020 Comments Off on Eleventh Hour: The rise of consultants since COVID-19 affords a vision of leadership for the Location Based and Themed Entertainment Industry.To help companies respond to industry-specific challenges,...
May 05, 2020 Comments Off on Inside the time machineCreative Principals’ Geoff Thatcher says now is the...
Apr 22, 2020 Comments Off on InPark exclusive: International participants in Dubai Expo 2020 share thoughts on the likely one-year postponement and the status of their pavilionsLeaders of several national pavilions being developed for...
Apr 03, 2020 Comments Off on Bingo Tso, ACE International, on the effects of COVID-19 pandemic on Asian companies and the attractions marketBingo Tso of ACE International shares his perspective from...
Mar 17, 2020 Comments Off on COVID-19: Reassurances from Beijing and Kelly Ryner (Thinkwell)"As for business here in China, there is a lot of positive...
Dec 25, 2019 Comments Off on California’s Great America WinterFest: Transforming a theme park into a holiday wonderland.With millions of lights and thousands of decorations, the...
Nov 16, 2019 Comments Off on #80 – IAAPA 2019Table of contents
Nov 15, 2019 Comments Off on Meet Amanda ThompsonIAAPA’s incoming chair has deep roots in the attractions...
Nov 15, 2019 Comments Off on TEA 2020A chat with Michael Blau - incoming TEA International Board...
Nov 14, 2019 Comments Off on IAAPA 2019 Chair David Rosenberg: The aqua-manRosenberg serves as the 2019 Chair of the IAAPA Board of...
Nov 14, 2019 Comments Off on CircusTrix CEO Fernando Eiroa: Leaps and boundsInPark spoke with Eiroa about the unique business of...
Nov 09, 2019 Comments Off on InPark exclusive: Interviews with Jeremy Railton and Scott Ault on the launch of their new company, Railton Entertainment Design (RED)Themed entertainment design veterans Jeremy Railton and...
Oct 22, 2019 Comments Off on ISE 2020The annual Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) trade show for...
Oct 21, 2019 Comments Off on IAAPA: “Wear comfortable shoes!”"If this is your first Expo, attend the First Time...
Sep 11, 2019 Comments Off on Netflix and thrill: Greg Lombardo joins the content streaming powerhouse as Head of ExperiencesLombardo brings with him more than a decade experience in...
Sep 10, 2019 Comments Off on Transitions: Leaps and boundsIndustry professionals are making moves and creating waves
Sep 09, 2019 Comments Off on Exploring IAAPA EuropeMeet recent additions to IAAPA’s European team
Oct 06, 2020 Comments Off on WhiteWater: Planning for 2021
Sep 29, 2020 Comments Off on #83 – Waterparks and more!
Sep 29, 2020 Comments Off on The InPark Magazine editors: Meet the press Part 2
Sep 29, 2020 Comments Off on EXP: Engineering the aquarium
Sep 29, 2020 Comments Off on DNP: Photo booth serendipity
Sep 29, 2020 Comments Off on Polin: I can see clearly now
Sep 29, 2020 Comments Off on Christine Kerr: From operations to creative to entrepreneur
Sep 28, 2020 Comments Off on Alterface: Inside Action League, the interactive revolution
Sep 28, 2020 Comments Off on Vekoma: Forged in steel, tempered by imagination
Sep 28, 2020 Comments Off on Theme park storytelling
Sep 28, 2020 Comments Off on InPark exclusive: Anna Knight of Informa Markets discusses the 2020 Festival of Licensing and the attractions industry
Aug 19, 2020 Comments Off on Nathan Jones: Continuing a journey of amazing attractions