Vol. 19: Health Clinic Signs in Hong Kong

The gWalled City,h which gained a reputation as a veritable den of iniquity in Hong Kong, was finally demolished this year. It was laid out like a maze and was an area totally outside the reach of the law where narcotics dealing and prostitution were rampant. The security of any tourists rash enough to enter inside the Walled City was completely unguaranteed, but curiosity got the better of many people, who summoned up the nerve to peak in. But it was quite something to look just at the exterior, which resembled a weird warship. The plan to demolish the area was implemented in advance of the return of the lease on the Kowloon peninsula in 1998, but in many ways it was sad to see the disappearance of one of Hong Kongfs most famous sites.

An interesting aspect of the Walled City was the area which contained a concentration of health clinics and hospitals. Hong Kong has the highest concentration of signs anywhere in the world, but it is extraordinary to see in this particular area nothing but signs for health clinics. (Although, come to think of it, it is perhaps no stranger than the fact that almost all the signs on the back streets of the Ginza area in Tokyo are for bars!)

Approaching close to the Walled City, the area seemed to give off a distinctive atmosphere through the coexistence of buildings and signs and of signs and plants. One might describe it as an aesthetic of disorder. In contrast to the ordered beauty of European cities, Hong Kong allows beauty to peep through the disorder in a distinctively East Asian manner.

1998 Copyright (c) All Japan Neon-Sign Association