Vol. 35: European Advertising Columns (Stockholm)

European advertising columns usually convey a sense of history and thus have their own weighty presence. The advertising columns of Stockholm occupy a distinctive position in this context. Far from being weighty, they are lightness itself, consisting of no more than a pipe frame with display panels attached. For anyone accustomed to the excessively ornate advertising columns seen elsewhere in Europe, the Stockholm versions seem at first a trifle insipid. They are relatively small, but this gives them their own charm. I noticed similar types in Scandinavian countries other than Sweden.

As you might well guess, the poster shown in the photograph is an advertisement for condoms. Ten years ago, when I saw this poster for the first time, I was very surprised and my impression was that this was a poster that could be conceived only in a country such as Sweden with progressive sexual mores. But these days one sees similar advertisements even in Tokyo subway trains. Perhaps Japan has now come to rival Sweden in terms of openness to sexual matters.

But itfs a different matter when it comes to openness to pornography. Japan still lags a long way behind Sweden in this respect. Pornographic magazines are openly on sale at kiosks in first-class hotels and airport lounges. Since I felt a bit embarrassed about buying one of these magazines, I took down the one I had decided to buy and placed it cover down on the desk in front of the young female cashier. Much to my consternation, the picture on the back of the magazine was even more blatant than the picture on the front cover! But, needless to say, the attractive Swedish girl didnft so much as bat an eyelid as she handed me my change.

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