Japanese Manhole Covers (マンホールの蓋): Art Beneath Your Feet

The Japanese are talented for elevating the mundane into a thing of beauty, an exquisite example of this is the humble manhole cover. Originally designed to make taxpayers more amenable to paying for costly drainage projects, Japan’s decorated manhole covers have become a source of local pride, highlighting regional attractions, wildlife, festivals, historic events, and even folklore.

19,000 different cover designs are in use in Japan, according to an estimate by the Japanese Society of Manhole Covers.

Handmade —> The manhole covers are cast in local foundries. Colored resin is poured by hand into the mold.

Drainspotting —> Dedicated “manholers” travel across the country, posting their favorites on social media.

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