In Japan, the most simple and ordinary things are that target of unrivalled attention and refinement, proving that the saying God is in the details might have had an Oriental origin. The perfectionist spirit of the Japanese makes them think of every little detail, improving them and personalizing them creatively, as much as prescribed standards will allow. Taxis, for instance, are all alike: they are painted the same colour, equiped with the same automatic doors and driven by a person in white gloves. However, little details make them, to Japanese acute eyes, easy to tell apart. That's the goal of the small light sign on the car roof of the taxi.
When they started being used, light signs were used for emergencies. In 1954, due to the large number of muggings of taxi drivers and passengers, a law was passed that allowed lights to be installed on the roof of the car to signal danger situations, when necessary. After being made redundant, the remaining signs, now with no functional purpose, were considered extravagances of vain taxi drivers.
More recently, the light signs have become all the rage again. They are now used to carry the logo for the taxi company, taxi rates, or even publicity. Their shapes and designs vary a great deal and the creativity behind them is astounding...
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