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01/13/2022

Expo 2020 Dubai

Japan tells its story in cutting-edge presentation at Dubai expo

The Japan pavilion’s exhibition producer Takayuki Nagatomo (left) and creative and stage director Masao Ochiai, chat in the conference room of Dentsu Live Inc. on Nov. 5, 2021.
The Japan pavilion’s exhibition producer Takayuki Nagatomo (left) and creative and stage director Masao Ochiai, chat in the conference room of Dentsu Live Inc. on Nov. 5, 2021.

The Japan pavilion at the Expo 2020 Dubai has proven especially popular for its exhibits on Japan’s history, culture, technology and current issues, all shown in a story-like presentation. This article delves into the concept behind the Japan exhibits at Expo 2020 and some of the factors behind their popularity.

Exhibition producer Takayuki Nagatomo said visitors started to line up in front of the pavilion’s entrance as soon as it opened.

“I spoke to some of the visitors, and many of them said the pavilion was ‘amazing,’” Nagatomo said. “When I asked them questions to find out what made them feel that way, they appeared to like the way they could learn about Japan’s characteristic culture and history and the hands-on nature.”

“The Japan pavilion’s exhibits are designed to pay attention to individual visitors, and I think that’s what made it perceived favorably,” he said.

At the pavilion, a smartphone is loaned to each visitor. They walk around and see a series of six scenes with the phone in hand. While they do so, data indicating the aspects of Japan that are attracting their interest are collected and analyzed. Using that information, a tailored final scene is created for the particular visitors who are present in the facility that day. In other words, the pavilion offers a one-of-a-kind experience. This is the first time this has ever been featured at the Japan pavilion. The exhibits use augmented reality audio technology and support multiple languages that visitors can choose from. Spoken explanations are provided in a consistent tone throughout the series of scenes, which together form a carefully coordinated story, ensuring visitors have a satisfying experience.

“I asked Ochiai to pay attention to highlighting the aspects of Japanese culture through video presentation,” Nagatomo said. “Each scene incorporated inputs from discussions involving many creators, but I think Ochiai’s role of coordinating the process was the key to raising the quality of presentation at the Japan pavilion.”

“My hope is that our exhibits make visitors want to know more about Japan,” Ochiai said.
“My hope is that our exhibits make visitors want to know more about Japan,” Ochiai said.

During the preparation stage, a key challenge was to design the presentation in a way that made the concept of the Japan pavilion simple and easy to understand for visitors from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds. The pavilion’s exhibits are not intended to impress visitors about how great Japan is. The aim is to present Japan’s history, culture and issues, ask visitors to think of what they can do for the world, and then encourage them to take action.

On the special website, Junkan: Where ideas meet,* visitors are encouraged to use a smartphone to enter a “message for the future,” such as, “I will take an eco-bag with me wherever I go to help solve the waste problem,” for example. Messages will continue to be added during the expo and will be used at Osaka-Kansai Japan Expo 2025. This is a strategy that takes advantage of Japan being host for the next expo.

* People anywhere in the world can post and share messages on the Junkan website (https://expo-junkan.go.jp/).

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