There is no doubt that the Expo Milano 2015 visitors were satisfied with the Japanese Pavilion. In fact, the Land of the Rising Sun has condensed all the imaginative capacity of this secular culture in the exhibition area. Moreover, the pavilion has attracted over 200,000 visitors so far.
Immersed in harmonious diversity
The participation theme was “Harmonious diversity” and intended to convey the gratitude for the natural riches and the love of nature typical of the country’s culinary traditions. The focus of the visit was the virtual meal at the end of the exhibition tour: the great theater was in fact a restaurant with tables and seating for the guests. The orders appeared on the table in the shape of an interactive video: touching the food with chopsticks, we could learn more about Japanese cuisine. An actual restaurant of the future!
The beginning of the trail is the Aioi
In the first room, which was a kind of prologue to the exhibition, the co-existence between man and nature was represented by calligraphic works and paintings. On a central video screen, there was a fascinating movie (with a shadow effect) about the Aioi, namely the natural harmony and its disruption by man. The first room showed the production areas at the basis of Japanese staple foods, primarily rice: rice fields with storks flying above is, indeed, one of the symbols of Japan. All this in a half-lit room in which we moved through oval-shaped plates hooked to the floor like flowers. Rural landscapes in the four seasons were projected on the walls, made with a half-reflecting mirror, using a brand-new projection mapping technology.
The Waterfall of diversity: technology back in the forefront
We moved along a corridor reproducing seasonal sounds and smells where pressed flowers were displayed. These evocative spaces gave way to the most advanced technology with the “Waterfall of diversity”: an installation consisting of a central column surrounded by a table. The entire surface was a video screen that projects images of food. After downloading the app, it was possible to place the smartphone in specific slots and drag the food to your plate. The photos were stored on the device along with information on the chosen food. The next room was amazing because it condensed, on one wall, a reproduction of all the typical products of Japanese food culture.
From global challenges to the solutions of the Rising Sun
The focus then moved into innovation: two animated mascots, Morizo and Chiccolo, explained the Planet’s food challenges to a robot in an easy language. Touching one of the four special globes on the sides of the room, it was possible to discover the solutions to the various problems that Japan has proposed on a global scale. The rich exhibition of the Pavilion could not forget the excellence of the production of dishes, ceramics and homeware art achieved in Japan: a big laid table conveyed the Cool Japan Dining concept. Before entering the live performance room, visitors were entertained by videos on new technologies and on the excellences of Japan.
Two restaurants were placed at the exit of the exhibition area. Four stations with automated payment offered Japanese curry, riceburgers, tempura and kobe beef, while – for those who wanted to enjoy a special meal – the Minokichi restaurant offered four traditional Japanese cuisine menus.