Manholes as Public Art

Manholes with a motif, like this one, were one of the most fascinating things I encountered in Japan. The unique sewage covers I saw in places like Osaka (where I first took notice of the pimped manholes), Fukui, Kyoto and Nagoya used to make me wonder whether it was only coincidental or out of a mere purely kawaii-intent that they were designed in peculiar ways.

Today, through Brainpickings' feature on "7 Essential Books on Street Art" I learned that it was indeed a government effort in the 80s to make these manholes aesthetically pleasing. Taking it further up a notch, most of these manholes were consequently designed to represent a city's identity, like this particular manhole which has the Osaka Castle facade embossed on it. Fascinating eh?

I'd like to get my hand on a copy of Drainspotting, the first book to document this city-sanctioned urban art. Here's the book cover and a feature on a Fukui manhole, showing the Fukui river, a popular spot for viewing Cherry Blossoms during Spring (I kinda feel proud, since Fukui rarely gets mentioned in anything).


Hey folks from MMDA, don't you think this would be really good reading on awesome urban art? Time to get inspired!

To view more photos, visit the Drainspotting Flickr page.

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