Follow Us




Views Water in Japan
Art Underfoot: Japan’s Top 12 Designer Manhole Covers

Manhole covers with colorful designs depicting local characters or scenic and historical spots have become a popular attraction for both Japanese and international tourists. Spots of beauty can be found literally underfoot. Find 12 top designs here, and an introduction to collectible “manhole cards.”

Japan’s Top 12 Designer Manhole Covers has picked some of the best manhole cover designs from around Japan for your viewing pleasure.

1. Sapporo, Hokkaidō

Salmon are known by Hokkaidō’s Ainu people as the “fish of the gods.” They have been returning to the Toyohiragawa river in Sapporo thanks to improved water quality, due in part to the sewer system. In this cover design, salmon swim around the Sapporo Clock Tower, a symbol of the city.

Related articleSapporo Snow Festival: From Humble Beginnings to Global Fame

2. Aomori, Aomori Prefecture

Aomori’s famous Nebuta Festival is held at the beginning of August each year. This cover depicts a large festival float modeled on a warrior, and dancers in costumes and flower hats.

Related articleFestival of Light: Experiencing the Nebuta Matsuri

3. Katsushika, Tokyo

The popular Monchhichi monkey characters are from Katsushika in northern Tokyo. They have a park named after them and feature on local buses. Monchhichi manhole covers are being installed in 10 locations around Shinkoiwa Station from 2017.

4. Ojiya, Niigata Prefecture

Nishikigoi brocaded carp were first bred in the city of Ojiya. They now come in some 100 varieties and have enthusiasts around the world. They are also the city’s official fish, appearing in this colorful cover design.

5. Katsuyama, Fukui Prefecture

The city of Katsuyama is the first place in Japan where dinosaur fossils were discovered, and home to the Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum. This manhole depicts the fearsome fukuiraptor.

6. Fuji, Shizuoka Prefecture

World heritage site Mount Fuji towers behind the whitecaps of Suruga Bay in this manhole cover. The design also recalls the Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji by ukiyo-e artist Katsushika Hokusai.

Related articleMount Fuji

  • [2017.10.25]
Related articles
Other articles in this report
  • Japan and the Art of Making Manhole Covers (Photo Gallery)Whether plain or beautifully designed, manhole covers are more than just simple slabs of metal. These photos give an inside view on the manufacturing process.
  • “Underground Temple” Safeguards Greater Tokyo from FloodsThe Metropolitan Area Outer Underground Discharge Channel was completed 10 years ago and has helped reduced flood damage around the nation’s capital on more than 100 occasions. The world-class underground flood control system not only drains rainwater from low-lying areas but has a pressure adjusting tank that, with its huge columns, has been likened to a giant underground temple.
  • A Solution to the Global Water Shortage?Every summer brings water shortages in Japan, and this has given rise to a host of water-saving products. One major hit in recent years has been the Bubble90 nozzle that can cut water use by 90% while also improving washing performance. It has been widely adopted in the restaurant industry.
  • Drinking from the Tap: Tokyo’s High-Quality Water SupplyThe Tokyo Waterworks employs leading-edge technology and upholds the highest standards to ensure clean, safe, and delicious tap water for the city’s residents.

Related articles

Video highlights

New series

  • From our columnists
  • In the news