Jul 24, 2018

Manhole cover art

Gallery - Manhole cover art

Much to my shame I was living here many years before I knew of the manhole cover art I was obliviously walking over daily. Even more humiliating to admit is that they came to my attention, not because I noticed them but because a dear cousin back home in Ireland sent me an article about them. Back then, there wasn't as much hype about them, but nowadays thanks to the social media there is a much better awareness of the beautifully decorated manhole covers.

Manhole cover art photo

All manhole covers in Japan have something emblazoned on them. It might be as simple as text, but the majority of them have some sort of art or symbol on them. Generally, the image on the manhole cover is related to the city or town in which the manhole is. For example, it might be the flower of the city or a local attraction in the town. Sometimes it is an animal or a depiction of a common trade in the area. There is such a huge choice that it makes the discovery of each manhole even more thrilling. And finding one that is in color is like winning on the slot machines!

After reading the article that introduced me to them, a whole new world was at my feet! And from that day to this I paradoxically walk with my head down. The excitement of finding that first manhole cover with art was exhilarating and I fast became a manhole cover art photo  collector. Regrettably, I am not a great photographer, so I know I don't do them justice, but the attached gallery will give you an indication of the type of manhole covers waiting for you to discover.

Thankfully, there are some great photographers who spend their days capturing the images of city's water work points of entry, as both a hobby and a living. Some share their work on Instagram. I have a couple of favorites one of which one posts regularly. "Miporin" has a great collection of manhole covers here (I have no affiliation to this Instagram account, just a fan). There are entrepreneurs who have cashed in on the interest of manhole cover art in other ways. Two lads from my home country (lreland) come to mind: they were the first to come up with the idea of printing the manhole cover emblems on t-shirts. You can buy postcards, calendars and stationery, to name but a few, with manhole cover art displayed on them. And I am sure there are many other by products that I have yet to hear about. 

Did you know about manhole cover art before you came to Japan? Do you photograph them? Any favorites? If you are new to them, I hope that you enjoy making their discovery as much as I did. 



Level 8 LocalGuide with Google. Blogging about life in Japan as an Irish WAHM to 4 kids on insaitama.com.