Manhole Covers Are Kind of Art in Japan! | Guidable - Your Guide to a Sustainable, Wellbeing-centred Life in Japan
Manhole Covers Are Kind of Art in Japan!

Manhole Covers Are Kind of Art in Japan!

By Guidable Writers Aug 30, 2016

Manhole Covers as Street Art in Japan

If you stay in Japan for a while, you might find unexpected art in several places. Especially you can see manhole covers drawn within each city’s distinction. They have many different designs like symbol of local professional sports team, famous produce, prefectural flowers, the image of famous attractions, etc. Therefore, there are creative manhole covers like the ones shown below. Colored covers are usually put into sidewalks and you might have seen them once or twice. Most of them are covers of sewerage manhole and designed covers has appeared to be a chance to deepen our understanding of sewerage projects.

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(Photo by Yuko)


Manhole Cards as Memory of Travel

In Japan, designed manhole covers used to be collected by taking pictures or drawing them. However, Japan Sewage Works Association (JSWA) and Municipalities which manage these manholes has started distributing cards called “Manhole Cards” from April 2016. Each card shows the cover’s picture, location information, and origin of design in Japanese. If the cities you have lived or visited distribute these cards, you would be reminded of the memories of travel.

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(Reference: Sankei Shimbun)


How to Get Manhole Cards

Manhole cards are distributed at several locations nationwide for free. However, you have to visit these distributing places because both mail order and reservation are not available. Therefore, you can get only one card per place and there is a limited number of things that are distributed. You should visit these places as soon as possible if you want to get some cards. You can get the details of distributing places and hours at (Japanese only). However, you occasionally need to observe the facilities to get the cards, and reservation is required as well.

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(Reference: Gesuido Koho Platform)


Other Ways to “Collect” Manhole Covers

You don’t have to be disappointed if it is difficult to get manhole cards because there are lots of products which is inspired by designed manhole covers like keychains, coasters, mouse pads, etc. You can get these at several retail stores or mail order. The coasters are made of rubber and it is very durable and it could be the topic of conversation with your friends who are interested in arts and crafts. Moreover, the “real” mini manhole covers can be used as paperweights. If you are interested in these manhole covers, it could be another way to collect them. Enjoy street art at home!

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