Japan's Artistic Manhole Covers

Look down at the art at your feet!

By Steph Newman   Apr 17, 2017 - 1 min read

You wouldn't think that manhole covers could be artistic, but think again!

Japan's manhole covers (マンホール蓋) are a real highlight for any design lover visiting Japan. Each area of Japan has its own designs, which may have flowers, scenes of nature, famous buildings, and even cartoon characters on them. Manhole covers come in both plain metal and coloured designs, and you may even find more than one design in an area, such as Yamaguchi City's half-a-dozen designs that can be seen around the town.

The manholes have attracted a lot of attention from lovers of art and Japanese culture, and there is even a Japanese Society of Manhole Covers (日本マンホール蓋学会) for those REALLY enthusiastic fans, who call themselves "drainspotters" and even have a book written about their passion.

So next time you're walking through a Japanese city, take the time to look down at your feet to see the art waiting for you to appreciate!

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Steph Newman

Steph Newman @steph.newman

In the last few years, I've travelled more than some people do in a lifetime. I've covered four continents, ten countries and more kilometres of train travel than I thought mentally endurable. Japan for me is a home away from home. It's the land I yearn for, and it calls to me from across the ocean.  In 2017-2018, I'm living, studying and working in Japan!