Most of us pass over manhole covers, those heavy metal discs capping off the entry points to the sewer system, every day and never pay them any mind. Why would you?
In Japan, where urban planning is elevated to an art form, the manhole cover is a perfect circular canvas for this colorful depiction of cherry blossoms in Nankou, Osaka.
This Nara Buddhist temple, Horyu–ji, flanked by autumn flowers, just begs you to stop and admire it.
These manhole covers bring color and beauty to the city.
Each municipality has a different manhole cover design.
These aren’t just for display, though. The designs and colors are durable enough to withstand being walked on, driven on and the elements.
This manhole shows a children’s handball game called temari.
As you might imagine, samurai are very popular.
Tokyo pays this adorable tribute to its firefighters.
And this manga-style firefighter tribute. Since firefighters use the manholes, they are often depicted in the covers.
Of course, local flora and fauna are very common, like this cover in the Nara Prefecture.
The star shape of historic Fort Goryokaku gets a brightly colored celebration with the city’s public hall.
The “Bell of Time” bell tower of Kawagoe is a local attraction.
Ikoma City has an Art Deco robot.
Nagoya makes waves with its cute gerridae bug.
Chiba’s looks too colorful to possibly be true.
While this monochromatic cherry blossom tree is beautifully understated.
Kamakura’s incorporates local granite for color and pattern.
Hiroshima’s baseball team, the Carp, gets a shoutout here.
Can you tell that the city of Hokkaido is very proud of their famous squid dishes?
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