The 2005 World Exposition held its closing ceremony Sunday afternoon to mark the final day of its six-month run in central Japan's Aichi Prefecture after providing visitors a chance to access new technologies and attracting millions with exhibits featuring things like humanoid robots and a frozen mammoth from Siberia.
Japanese Crown Prince Naruhito, honorary president of the expo and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi were among the guests attending the closing ceremony at the expo's Nagakute main site, 20 km east of Aichi prefectural capital Nagoya. All pavilions will be shut by 9 p.m. following an Expo 2005 Grand Finale event in the evening.
Four international organizations and 121 countries, as well as local governments and companies such as Toyota Motor Corp. took part in raising awareness about global environment issues through the 185-day show at their pavilions at the expo.
With Sunday falling at the end of a three-day weekend in Japan,flocks of people gathered overnight outside the expo. An estimated41,3000 were lined up when the gates opened at around 8:10 a.m., 50 minutes earlier than usual due to the large crowd.
The number of visitors to the Aichi Expo gradually picked up over the summer after a slow start in March, and surged notably inthis month as the closing date approached.
The total attendance since the March 25 opening is expected to top 22 million visits through Sunday, almost 1.5 times the 15 million target the organizer had aimed for, although still much less than the 64 million recorded at Japan's first World Expo in Osaka in 1970.
Guests and dignitaries from 117 countries and the United Nations have visited Japan for the expo and a total of 110 National Day events were held there.
The expo association made headlines when it bowed to public pressure to lift a ban on homemade lunchboxes just days after the opening, and when it had to suspend online reservations for visitsto popular pavilions because the system became overloaded.
According to the association, the reservation system, launched in hopes of reducing waiting time at popular pavilions, was also attacked by hackers and exploited by scalpers.
But it said in the latest press release that there is no majorincident occurred, while admitting that the waits were indeed too long. Visitors had to wait in line for up to eight hours on crowded days to enter popular pavilions.
The expo organizer and many participating countries have put expo exhibits and equipment up for auction in hopes of utilizing the resources as much as possible and many items have fetched goodprices.
The Aichi Expo was the first world expo in the 21st century andJapan's first in 35 years since the Osaka Expo. The next World Expo will be held in China's largest commercial metropolis Shanghai in 2010.