Once a beacon of the nightly skyline of this port city, the iconic white neon signboard of the historical Hotel New Grand will shine brightly again around October for the first time in more than 40 years.
The hotel, located across from Yamashita Park, which is alongside the harbor, decided to reinstall the illuminated sign as part of a renovation project to its main building, built in 1927, in preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Trial lighting will start later this month.
The original neon sign was installed on the roof of the hotel building in August 1964 ahead of the Tokyo Olympics in October that year, according to hotel President Kenji Hamada.
The signboard, measuring 2.7 meters tall and 33.7 meters wide, became a landmark of Yokohama, but the neon tubing was removed to save energy in the wake of the 1973 oil crisis.
Hotel New Grand was constructed by the city government and local business community and served as a symbol of Yokohama’s recovery from the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, which devastated the city.
Shortly after Japan’s defeat in World War II in August 1945, U.S. Gen. Douglas MacArthur, supreme commander for the Allied Powers in Japan, stayed at the hotel for three nights. The room where he stayed is designated the "MacArthur Suite."
While the city’s landscape planning regulates installation of signboards in the area, it will allow the hotel to reinstall the illuminated sign.
“The signboard was in place before the city created the regulation, and it will also help increase the charms of Yokohama’s landscape,” a city official said.