Vol. 12: Overhanging Signs in Europe (Szentendre)

Traveling up along the River Danube from the Hungarian capital of Budapest, after a pleasant hour-long cruise one reaches Szentendre, a town which provides an ideal get-away location for the people of Budapest. Cafes and art galleries are set facing the central square, and the alleyways leading off the square are full of souvenir shops. The bright, exotic atmosphere reminds a Japanese visitor of the resort town of Karuizawa. The wonderful overhanging signs of the shops are highly individual and ingeniously erected. Very few of them indicate the names of the shops, but they are designed in such a way that a single glance makes it immediately clear what each has on sale.

One such sign shows the shaking of two ringed hands: at the top of the photograph we seen a shop selling accessories. In contrast, the skullcapped monk holding up a whole roasted fish and chicken is the image of sign advertising a restaurant. A particularly fine point is the way in which a knife and a fork are stuck into the chicken. (Just in case you were wondering, the swallow at the top is a real one!) There is something here that brings to mind the signs employed in Japan during the Edo Period, for example the great care taken with their installation, the spirit of humor, and the enigmatic fascination that they provoke. One can but marvel at these structures with their liberal outlay of costs and ingenuity.

1998 Copyright (c) All Japan Neon-Sign Association