Vol. 30: A Mysterious Object in Copenhagen

I wonder if you have ever heard of the gRoadway Observation Society.h This is by no means an academic society attempting to explore the far reaches of human knowledge. It is in fact a group of Japanese profligates led by the avant-garde artist and writer Genpei Akasegawa and including several unusual types such as Terunobu Fujimori, known as the father of sign architecture, and the illustrators Shinbo Minami, Hinako Sugiura, and Joji Hayashi. What they do is to walk through the streets observing and collecting unusual objects attached to roads and buildings. They are interested in everything that strikes them, including roof tiles, plants, signs, and guard rails. They show an astonishing degree of sharpness of observation and enthusiasm for collection.

Anyone traveling overseas must surely feel much like the members of the Roadway Observation Society.

Strolling through the streets of Copenhagen with these thoughts in mind, I came across an extraordinary object: a combination of neon tubes attached to a corner of a modern building. It didnft look much like a sign, but it didnft seem particularly appropriate as a building ornament either. What on earth could it have been built for? It looked a bit like the signs which were once used to indicate hot springs in Japan, but my impression was that it was a neon object created in a spirit of play by the owner. One of the pleasures of travel is coming across such trivial discoveries and letting them exercise onefs imagination.

1998 Copyright (c) All Japan Neon-Sign Association