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Friday, April 24, 2009
Yokohama opens anniversary expo for preview
By MARIKO KATO
YOKOHAMA — Under the theme "Set Sail!" an exposition commemorating the 150th anniversary of the opening of Yokohama port kicks off Tuesday. Organizers say the event combines mechanical and technological spectacles with environmentally friendly messages.
"In the past we held events to celebrate the 50th and 100th years of the port's opening, but this time we wanted to focus on Yokohama 'setting sail' to become a city that represents the world," Tatsuhiro Abe, spokesman for the Association for the 150th Anniversary of the Opening of the Port of Yokohama, said at a media preview Thursday.
Five million visitors are expected to turn out for the exposition, which runs until Sept. 27, Abe said.
The event's centerpiece is a 12-meter-tall, 37-ton mechanical spider created by the French artist group La Machine. The contraption, operated by eight Japanese actors, will navigate the exhibition space five times a day.
"The movements of the body parts have to be coordinated perfectly, so La Machine requested that actors maneuver the spider," said a spokeswoman for the association.
Showcasing record-breaking high-definition technology developed by NHK, the expo's Super Hi-Vision Theater will screen a short movie featuring the natural beauty of Japan on a 154-inch screen.
An animated Nissan electric car will offer a visual lesson on saving the environment, with the real vehicle on display nearby. Those inspired by the experience are encouraged to write eco-friendly resolutions on pieces of paper that are sucked into and blown around in balloons 7.5 meters in diameter.
As night falls, a balloon 20 meters in diameter will float overhead reflecting a presentation highlighting environmental issues directed by astronaut Chiaki Mukai.
Visitors are free to enter and leave the exhibition at any time.
"We want the exposition to be the starting point from where visitors can experience other charms of the city," Abe said.
Other attractions include a futuristic animated movie featuring the voices of popular actors Hayato Ichihara and Aya Ueto.
The main exhibitions are in the Bayside area centered around Red Brick Warehouse. Other events are scheduled for Dobutsu-no-Mori Park in July and elsewhere in the city throughout the year. Same-day tickets for the Bayside area attractions start at ¥2,400 for adults and ¥800 for kids.