Amazing Art: Japan’s Manhole Covers マンホール蓋

Japan is a country full of amazing art. You can pretty much see art and designs everywhere including right underneath your feet: Japan’s Manhole Covers



Only in Japan!!

Many cities and even small towns have their own signature manhole covers. Some photographers, Japanese and tourists are obsessed by them. They may travel to different towns to take photos of them. There are even manhole cover exhibitions being held.

How did all these started?

In 1985, a high-ranking bureaucrat in the construction ministry came up with the idea of allowing municipalities to design their own manhole covers. His objective was to raise awareness for costly sewage projects and make them more palatable for taxpayers. A few design contests and publications were held. Since then, the manhole craze took off and towns have started to compete with each other to see who could come up with the best designs. Most of the covers are plain alloy but some are painted with beautiful colours.

How many designs are there?

Today there are about 12000 artistic manhole covers throughout 1700 cities and towns in Japan (coverage over 95%).  You can find them even in some very small towns in the remote areas. According to the Japan Society of Manhole Covers (yes, there is a society for these covers), largest category are trees, followed by landscapes, floral designs and animals. Some featured people, buildings, castles and cartoon characters. Each one of them is a representation of the area, presenting the history, culture, custom and helps to brighten the streets of the towns. People take pride of the designs in the towns they live in.

Want to see and know more?

If you are interested in these covers, please see the below 15 mins video for more details and how they are made.

Next time when you visit Japan, make sure you look down when you walk. 🙂



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