Vol. 3:Neon Signs in Pharmacies

There are many countries where neon signs are used in pharmacies. In Korea, neon signs were prohibited prior to the 1988 Olympics in order to economize on electrical power consumption, although several exceptions were allowed, in particular international hotels, drugstores, and hospitals. Anyone visiting Seoul at the time would have been struck as they walked around the streets of the city at night by the neon signs that lit up pharmacies alone. The overriding impression was that Seoul was a city with an astonishing number of pharmacies. It hardly needs pointing out that lights at hotels were permitted for the convenience of foreign tourists, while the lighting of pharmacies and hospitals was authorized to provide for any possible emergencies.

Just as the spherical red, white and blue marks of hairdressers are common in many countries all over the world, so there are points in common between the signs used to distinguish pharmacies in many countries. In particular, there is the use of the cross sign as the basic distinguishing pattern. But the way in which this design is actually used differs from country to country: the cross may be colored red, white or green. It is especially interesting to see how this small sign, which can be thought of as a kind of mascot on the city streets, reflects different national characters.

The photograph shows a sign in the Italian city of Florence.

1998 Copyright (c) All Japan Neon-Sign Association