ArrowArtboardCreated with Sketch.Title ChevronTitle ChevronIcon FacebookIcon LinkedinIcon Mail ContactPath LayerIcon MailPositive ArrowIcon Print

The fight to keep Hong Kong's neon lights ablaze

Once ubiquitous, the glowing signs are in danger of fading out

Stop here for dried seafood.

It was a Frenchman who first developed neon tube lighting in 1910 -- and the illuminating idea quickly spread from Parisian opera houses to New York cinemas, before arriving in Hong Kong in the 1920s. After the Second World War, Hong Kong's population boomed and business flourished. Soon, signs popped up hawking jewelry, tailor-made suits and fishball noodles. By the 1980s, the city was aglow. Smoldering signs jostled for attention down thoroughfares including Nathan Road, jutting over shop fronts in shining, serried rows.

Today, though, about 90% of Hong Kong's neon signs have disappeared since the technology's heyday. The remainder are clustered in neighborhoods such as Sham Shui Po or nightlife hubs such as Wan Chai, though a few can still be found as far afield as the sleepy beach town of Sai Kung.

Sponsored Content

About Sponsored Content This content was commissioned by Nikkei's Global Business Bureau.

Discover the all new Nikkei Asia app

  • Take your reading anywhere with offline reading functions
  • Never miss a story with breaking news alerts
  • Customize your reading experience

Nikkei Asian Review, now known as Nikkei Asia, will be the voice of the Asian Century.

Celebrate our next chapter
Free access for everyone - Sep. 30

Find out more