Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Art of Manhole Covers in Japan - Part 1

Japan is a country where art is of utmost importance. This highly advanced country also gave the world some fine art such as "Ikebana", the art of flower arrangement, "Origami" the art of paper folding. But art is not limited to objects in museums and art galleries. Since ancient days great emphasis has been laid on art and creativity even in daily life. Art can even be found on manhole covers in Japan. About 95% of the municipalities in Japan have their own unique manhole cover designs. Some municipalities have more than one design. In a country with over 1700 municipalities (as of January 2014: Source http://www.soumu.go.jp/gapei/gapei2.html), the number of manhole cover designs is overwhelming. It is said that Japanese municipalities even compete to adorn their manhole covers with the most unique and beautiful patterns.The designs on these manhole covers vary from flowers, culture, history, historical buildings, fruits, animals, birds, etc. Some manhole covers are colorful, while others are not colorful. The outcome of this is that the manhole covers are a visual treat. 

The trend is said to date back to 1985 when a high ranking official in the construction ministry encouraged municipalities to adorn their manhole covers with their own patterns. The intention was to draw attention to the benefits of the costly sewage projects. Nevertheless, the trend caught up and added another stroke of art and beauty to Japanese roads. With over 6000 manhole cover designs, it is fascinating to see the different designs and styles of every town and city and be amazed at the creativity.  

Whenever we go on a trip I first look out for the local manhole cover and my husband reminds me if I forget ! I posted a few manhole cover pictures on a popular social networking site and my friends could not stop raving about them. In our last 3 and 1/2 years in Japan, I have clicked pictures of quite a few manhole covers. Unfortunately, I started collecting these pictures a few months after coming to Japan, so missed out some interesting manhole covers. Will share pictures of my collection beginning with this post. More pictures will follow soon. 

I was told that most manhole covers are forged at the Nagashima Foundry from carved master plates. These plates are preserved in a central library. There is even a Japan Society of Manhole Covers !  

If anything mundane needs to be transformed to a work of art, trust the Japanese to do it !

Few pictures from my collection. 

1. Aizu Wakamatsu, Fukushima Prefecture
 2. Asuke cho-Toyota city, Aichi Prefecture
 3. Asuke cho-Toyota city, Aichi Prefecture
 4. Daio, Nagano Prefecture
 5. Enoshima- Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture
 6. Enoshima- Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture
 7. Enoshima- Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture
 8. Fuji Kawaguchiko, Yamanashi Prefecture
 9. Fuji city, Shizuoka Prefecture
 10. Fukushima city, Fukushima Prefecture
 11. Fukushima city, Fukushima Prefecture
 12. Fukushima city, Fukushima Prefecture
 13. Gujo, Gifu Prefecture
 14. Hitachi, Ibaraki Prefecture
 15. Hitachi naka, Ibaraki Prefecture
 16. Hitachi, Ibaraki Prefecture
 17. Hitachi naka, Ibaraki Prefecture
 18. Ichinomiya, Aichi Prefecture
 19. Inazawa, Aichi Prefecture
 20. Inuyama, Aichi Prefecture
 21. Inuyama, Aichi Prefecture
 22.Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture
 23. Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture
24. Tsuchiyu, Fukushima Prefecture
 25. Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture
 26. Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture
 27. Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture
 28. Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture
 29. Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture
 30. Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture
 31. Kozoji, Aichi Prefecture
32. Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture
 33. Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture


More pictures will follow shortly..... 

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