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Osaka’s famous Glico “running man” sign, which has been a landmark for almost 80 years, is facing yet another upgrade—this time from neon lights to LED. This will be the sixth generation of the sign, and aside from the change in lighting technology, which Ezaki Glico Co. says is due to the increasing difficulty in finding neon tubes, will still feature an image of a runner crossing a finish line.

It turns out, though, while the first sign wasn’t as colorful as it is today, it still had plenty of character. In this early 1937 film stored at the Kobe City Museum, the “running man” can be seen in vivid red and white, although deterioration of the film over time has rendered the white to appear more green.

When Ezaki Glico Co. was designing the sixth generation sign, they considered doing more of athrowback design, but the only sources they could find describing the 1935 sign were black and white photos and literature. Upon reading this in the Asahi Shimbum, a curator at the Kobe City Museum remembered the existence of a color video filmed of Dotonburi, the downtown area in Osaka where the sign is located. The film was shot just two years after the introduction of amateur color film in 1935 by Eastman Kodak. It was recorded by the late Hajime Ikenaga, the founder of the Ikenaga Art Museum, the predecessor of the Kobe City Museum.

Interestingly, literature and primary sources from the 1930s say the sign was originally six colors, and involved light purple and “what is very likely to be pink.” The company is continuing to look into it, and is eager to see what it will discover.

Source: Otakomu via Asahi Shimbum

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