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Japanese Manhole Covers マンホール蓋

Are you on the lookout for cool new ways to catch people’s attention on your campaign message or symbol?

Rainbow crossings have been a popular feature, but they can be a bit daunting for some. There are nice street-art alternatives, like this inspiration from Japan: Manhole covers. This medium is not only original, it can also be combined with messages that speak to its utility, like “(dis)covering my identity”, “below the surface”, “everything can become beautiful”, etc.

Japanese manhole covers come in a variety of designs depending on locality, utility type and the manufacturer of the manhole cover. They have caught the imagination of a growing number of self-styled “drainspotters” from around the world

A quick search on Google reveals the increasing number of tribute sites and the popularity of the cult of the Japanese manhole. There is even a Japanese Society of Manhole Covers (日本マンホール蓋学会) with their own website (in Japanese) listing many of Japan’s estimated 6,000 different kinds of manhole cover.

Japan’s manhole covers often include a symbol specific to an area or town as part of their design. In Kyoto, a turtle (a symbol of wisdom and longevity) is the main motif; in addition local landmarks, people, festivals or flora and fauna can all be incorporated into these underfoot works of art. Trees are the most common design, followed by landscapes and flowers.