A rotating miracle! Actually, this is a round, animated LED sign for a restaurant in Tokyo's neighbourhood of Kappabashi. Curry (in katakana on red) would be one of their recommendations. (See another view of it here.) Welcome to the LED wonders of Tokyo!

Top 10 LED signage in Tokyo

LED elements are cheap and practical for visual instruction — they can be used for traffic lights as well as playful art objects. And since we pass by some marvellous works of basic information visualisation in Tokyo every day, we had to collect them for you, beloved reader. Time for a post on the best LED signage in this city!

Written by Verena

To Lead The Masses

Even religions are marketed as products and brands these days, so they too have to grab the attention of easily distracted passersby. The Church of Lord in Akasaka needed the same flashy LED animation as the restaurant next door. A display lures the sheep with godly words in Japanese, Korean and English to a fourth floor. So perfectly appropriate in modern times, is it not?


Flashy ad for the Church of Lord — in Korean …

… and in English. Watch out for that fourth floor in Akasaka.

Never Miss An Exit Again

We know you would have found the escalator in the subway at some point. However, just in case you flew in with a plane or a spaceship, this futuristic LED signage right in Yokohama station leads you to the runway in any weather conditions – or crowds – in this huge temporary construction site.

Futuristic info guidance to the elevated staircase, seen at the ever busy Yokohama station.

The Virtual Construction Worker

First of all, an animated construction worker in 3D waving at the drivers is special, even for Tokyo where you learn to expect practically anything. Now, look at him, this postmodern representation of the real guys — Baudrillard would have fun with him, no doubt! In the future we might see LEDs replaced by a hologram of a worker standing right in the street.


Stage 1: A virtual roadworker raising the flag …

2: … higher and higher.

3: By now the driver should have noticed this strange apparition…

4: … waving in front of road works next to Meiji Dori in Shibuya.

In Japan there are myriad kinds of artificial workers as warning signs, but for us, an LED specimen tops them all. If you want to see another one next to a flashy LED warning, have a look at this fine example in orange!

Road Works Light Show

Construction sites and road works can’t be overlooked in Tokyo. And in a visually over-saturated cityscape like Shibuya, warning signs demand dramatic features: rotating, flickering, flashing plates with red LED. If you’re not a busy driver, you think: How cool!

The seemingly ever ongoing construction around Shibuya station calls for elaborate lights you can still make out among all those neon ads: a flashing wheel!

There is way more to see of this awesome construction work signage. For example, an LED wheel that also looks marvelous when flashing hectically.

Interlude: LED Barber Pole


An animated LED barber pole! See it moving in daylight.

We told you a lot about sign poles recently, but this one is such a techy one we can’t resist showing one more. As the modern equivalent to the traditional rotating blue and red pole, it fits well into modern urbanity and looks way more chic than a Pachinko neon sign!

Even in broad daylight, this pole has a mysterious feel, as if it was sent from outer space. Watch it animated here!

Oval Shaped Infotainment

A real estate agency in Shibuya wanted something very green and moving in their curving window — so the got themselves a slightly arched LED info board showing the latest housing prices. Wanna see it move? Here you go!

Behind a curving window in Shibuya, this complex LED bar displays info about real estate. Stylish! See it in action.

Shop/Installation/Art

OK, this isn’t exactly signage but more of an artful installation used as clever eye-catcher. And definitely worth a closer inspection: UNIQLO’s moving LED display frames the window of their concept T-shirt store “UT STORE HARAJUKU.” The overall shop design was done by Kashiwa Sato. Have a look at the shop inside from here. Care for a better view of the window? See it from a street perspective!

The hypermodern “UT STORE HARAJUKU” by UNIQLO. What a glowing arch!

We Want Beer!

A restaurant along Harajuku’s Meiji Dori is pretty straightforward when it comes to their serving suggestions — soup, beer and all sorts of tasty bites are advertised along with their prices. Wait for the part when they show a happy customer drinking his ‘bi-ru!’

LED displaying the restaurant’s recommendations including prices.

Under Stormy Weather

In nature, LEDs come in handy, as seen at the picturesque Shonan beach next to the Enoshima peninsula, a big tourist magnet: This sign indicates strong winds. Now we are waiting for the red lights to glimmer…

We hope we could surprise you today with a bit of special LED signage! If you spot some great ones, let us know, please!

  • cecilia corzo

    i love leds, ilove this article, i love pingmag!

  • sciortino

    ^ I agree with her.

  • nyuudo

    love lights, hate global warming!

  • ConcernedCitizen

    exactly, isn’t this bad for the enviroment?

  • njlsmelle

    what why? they are so pretty

  • Reality

    LED lights consume no more than 30–60 milliwatts (mW) of electrical power each and are marvels at energy input to light output conversion. If anything they are efficient and a good step towards energy conservation. I was pleased with reading and viewing this article, always beautiful work from PingMag… but then was disappointed to see such ignorant comments. It’s tiring to hear about how sneezing contributes to global warming and like-minded, unfounded claims.

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    This is part of Japanese culture.. Sometimes I do get tired of the flashing leds, but then again, they do create their own atmosphere in Japanese streets.

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  • http://gliblog.com David

    Fuck the environment! That’s flashy!

    Who does really think about environmental change when their purpose really is to draw someones attention to the subject, a shop, church, building site or whatever? These brilliant examples once more show how carefull Japanese signage is, and the people who want them to be as effective as possible. In a chaotic world — and Japan for sure is THE place of chaos of some sort — these lights help us to find our way through the mess. Thank you! Ping!

  • Mariya Marie

    There are belts with led screens (as buckles) available in the market. You get to personalize whatever phrase you’d like to display on your buckle-led screen. They are pretty popular among the hop-hoppers in North America. I don’t like them personally :P

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  • Zeno

    I just want to say that I think that conservation in a lot of things is really misguided. For instance: what is the point of a $2000 washing machine that washes with a little amount of water but takes 90 minutes to wash the clothes and they still come out stinky vs a washing machine that costs $300 and washes them in half the time and does it right the first time? — conservation is about not going overboard with waste. not ruining stuff that already works perfectly well. just my two cents.

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