There are many different ways that artists and city municipalities can work together to decorate their cities, but it seems like city administrators in Japan have come up with one solution that is as unexpected and whimsical as it is creative and beautiful – decorated manhole covers.
Each municipality takes pride in its manhole cover design, which can display anything from municipal symbols and local landscapes to abstract patterns or illustrations of local legends. There’s even a Japan Society of Manhole Covers!
It all started in the 1980s, when Japan began modernizing sewage infrastructure in more rural areas. These expensive changes were met with resistance until one bureaucrat came up with an inspired solution – give cities the opportunity to decorate their manholes and display their local pride. Eventually, the whole phenomenon was described by Remo Camerota in his book Drainspotting.
For some of the best examples of just how elaborate and beautiful these manholes covers can get, check out these photos by S. Morita. This photographer’s Flickr account is chock full of images of Japan’s colorful and creative manhole covers.
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