The Cheerful World Of Japanese Manhole Covers

From the Dish and Andrew Sullivan “The Cheerful World Of Japanese Manhole Covers”

The Cheerful World Of Japanese Manhole Covers

by Maisie Allison

Michelle Aldredge introduces us to a minor feat in public art:

One of my favorite book discoveries this summer is Drainspotting

 by Remo Camerota. The book celebrates an array of fascinating manhole cover designs from Japan. According to Camerota, nearly 95% of the 1,780 municipalities in Japan have their very own customized manhole covers. The country has elevated this humble, practical object to its own art form. The designs depict everything from local landmarks and folk tales to flora and fauna and images created by school children. Camerota explains the evolution of these custom covers in Drainspotting

In the 1980s as communities outside of Japan’s major cities were slated to receive new sewer systems these public works projects were met with resistance, until one dedicated bureaucrat solved the problem by devising a way to make these mostly invisible systems aesthetically appreciated aboveground: customized manhole covers.