Vol. 22: Channel Neon Signs in Bergen

Any Japanese person who arrives at a Scandinavian airport is invariably struck by the height of the toilet seats. For many people it is an effort to get the soles of their shoes to touch the floor. Even if one manages to get the better of the toilet seats, for a man the most demeaning situation is being too short to get onefs willie up to a sufficient height to be able to use the urinals. The further north one goes in Europe, the taller the people are.

The average height of Norwegian male competitors in the Winter Olympics was 179.5 centimeters. Itfs not surprising how high the toilet seats are! Bergen, which is not far from Lillehammer, where the Olympic Games were held, is Norwayfs second city and features a wonderful harmony between its harbor and the natural environment. Surrounded by forests and lakes on the outskirts of the city, one sees log houses of the type where Grieg immersed himself in composition of Peer Gynt. In Bergen we had the chance to see signs which seemed to typify the Norwegian character. Neon channel lettering could be seen on department stores and hotels, but the channels seemed extraordinarily high in respect to the width of the letters. But there was no sense of boorishness; on the contrary, one sensed sharpness above the stability. The mass of the bronze seemed very much like contemporary sculpture. There was no feeling of formal unnaturalness in the handling of the neon tubes, which were completely at one with the letter channels. Lightness is the byword in the Japanese sign industry at present, but we need to learn something from the type of forms employed in Norway.

1998 Copyright (c) All Japan Neon-Sign Association