2005 photo essays
Finally, I put up a page with all the content that couldn't fit in at other places. This comes in pretty much unfiltered but after all, I spent so much time writing that it just isn't right to put it to waste in the depths of my hard drive. So here come my previously undisclosed outtakes of Expo essays.
· Expo profiles: The hard-working people
Upon talking with some other Expo staff about their work, I had the idea of conducting short interviews and profiles of people working in other pavilions. This was canceled due to the lack of time to set up meetings with people.
· Fun things to do at the Expo
This was intended as a collection of activities on the Expo site outside of mere exhibition presentations. It was supposed to include activities such as riding the canopy tour in the Centroamerican pavilion, having your name written in Egyptian, riding the ferris wheel, taking your picture at the Hessen camera, or drink some Beerlao and Lao coffee. Canceled because I wasn't able to find enough topics.
· The foreigner bonus
This was supposed to treat the issue of being a white foreigner in Japan. I have made the experience that when living in Japan as a foreigner, you can use the foreigner status as an advantage. If there is any trouble, say, with the police or your landlord, you can just pretend to be a funny, dumb alien who has no fucking clue about what's going on. Many people seem to show a kind of wariness when you come around the corner. This can result in some comical situations (like when you are in a crowded train but the seats around you remain empty, or people change seats when you arrive).
A recent experience on the train fits this topic quite well. I was sleeping on the train and suddenly woke up, jumping towards the door and asking "Is this Nagoya?". The last man who entered the train answered, "No, this is Fushimi, Nagoya is next" I thanked him and surrendered my seat to him, and only then realized that the man was blind. At that time I was thinking that maybe no other Japanese would have answered my unsolicitated question, and that only the person who didn't see that I was a foreigner would answer me without any qualms. A funny experience.
· The staff bus incident
This was a special incident just a short while after I wrote about the introduction of the evening staff bus. On this occasion, we commited one of the biggest crimes in Japan: skipping the queue when we met some colleagues from the German pavilion. Even though this was clearly seen by everybody, nobody complained about it, and the bus staff didn't say anything to us; however, they threw out two little Japanese girls from the queue to make space for us (we only learned about this later). We didn't think much about it, but in the bus, a Japanese girl from the German pavilion made an angry speech to us that "we should leave the bus at once", "we're in Japan and need to obey Japanese rules" and that "everybody on the bus thinks this way, only nobody dares to say anything because we are foreigners". It was clear that she made the speech to us to separate herself from us and not be associated with us, because we obviously came from the same pavilion. In some way, this incident once again opened our eyes about the way Japan works.
· Sign language
This was inspired by the custom of some of our Japanese visitors of not asking questions normally but inquiring in Tarzan-like sign language; for example, asking for the location of the stamp of the German pavilion would usually be conducted by moving the fist up and down in a stamping manner and shouting "Sutampu? Sutampu?" The inquiry for the German restaurant would normally be accompagnied by a "drinking from a jug" movement and the question "Biiru?" Needless to say this can be a bit unnerving and/or disrespectful at times.
· Expo souvernirs
Finally, I collected a huge number of souvenir photographs as a memory of my stay at the Expo. The following presents a selection of my favorite pictures of the last six months.