All About Japan

Manholers Unite!

Art Deeper Japan

From the towering skyscrapers of Tokyo to the historic landmarks of Kyoto, there's so much to see while traveling around Japan. However, lying right at your feet are bits of artwork that are unique to each region. And, believe it or not, these beautiful objets d'art are literally the barrier between the beauty of living in Japan and actual crap!

Japan initially started using decorative manhole covers in the 1980s as a way to draw attention to the Japanese sewer system. But the aesthetic appeal of the designs seems to be increasing each year, as the manhole covers depict scenes of cultural importance to each locality. People in Japan are definitely noticing, as the number of "manholers," or manhole cover aficionados, grows. And because it's Japan, you can now collect adorable trading cards to go along with the memories of seeing these manhole covers for yourself.

John Daub and the Only in Japan team have traveled all over the country noting remarkable manhole covers. After checking out some of their favorites, you'll get to follow the camera inside Nagashima Casting (長島鋳物) a factory where the covers are made and even colored. But, you don't have to go far to see these metallic marvels—just make sure to look down from time to time.