Custom Manhole Covers
Background: On the grey asphalt brightly coloured manhole covers jump out at you. Some contain characters or samurai from the sewers that are ready to attack you. Does no one else notice them? Are they an enchanted charm to keep evil subterranean “yokai” (traditional ghouls/spirits) at bay?
After researching this topic and having already amassed a giant photo collection of manhole covers, I’ve decided that Japan is indeed unique in decoration obsession. There is no real benefit as to why such designs are necessary. According to the Japan Times it only costs an extra fraction to stamp out a city’s custom design than to use a generic design. Apparently it adds charm and pride to a city to have it’s own manhole designs but 9/10 of the people I’ve asked have never really paid attention to manhole covers at all!
In hobby-obsessed Japan, there is always a group of extremists who tend to take things to the next level. If you can believe Tom Cruise’s statement in the movie, ‘The Last Samurai’, that Japanese people are 'utterly devoted’ to perfection, this proves that that devotion to a single task has gone slightly overboard. Nonetheless, after a while I have grown quite fond of seeing such uniqueness and it has in turn, turned me into a manhole lover. Sounds kind of weird when said like that…