Hunting Manhole Covers

08.10.2012 § 1 Comment

I’ve been lucky to travel to Europe many times for business, to France, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, England. After a while, I got a little blasé about things and did not pay too much attention to anything other than getting my business done. I did take one or two short excursions for pleasure, dovetailing the business trip, to places such as Venice, Paris and Prague. I was not looking for anything in particular at those times, although I noticed the door handles in Prague were quite amazing and took many pictures of them. Unfortunately, my documentation was lost, and I have never been back to Prague since.

I tend to notice subtle differences between places and find that the most prosaic objects can be the most interesting. I had noticed manhole covers here and there while I traveled the world, but not until I took a relaxing vacation tour in Japan did I develop a true interest and decide I would documents them whenever I see them, good or bad. This will be how I record my footsteps from now on. One of the reasons this aroused my interest was because the manhole covers I saw in Japan were out of the ordinary. Some of them were outrageously interesting, nothing like what I’d seen before. The Japanese are tradition-respecting people. They have kept very old things intact, so it is a good place to search for history. Here are a few outrageous manhole covers I found:

Osaka Castle

Osaka Castle is one of Japan’s most famous castles and played a major role in the unification of Japan during the sixteenth century. It was build by General Toyotomi Hideyoshi.

Osaka Castle

Manhold Cover Image

Manhole Cover Found at Osaka Castle
“Osaka City, Water Bureau, Air Valve”

Manhole Cover Image

Manhole Cover Found at Osaka Castle
“Water Path”

Osaka Dodonbori

Osaka Dodonbori is one of the principal tourist destinations in Osaka, Japan.

Osaka Dotonbori

Manhole Cover in Osaka Dotonbori

Manhole Cover at Dotonbori
Says, “Central District”

Nara Tōdai-ji, temple gate

Nara was the capital of Japan from 710 to 784, lending its name to the Nara period. The manhole covers I saw were from Tōdai-ji temple built around 741AD.  The temple is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as “Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara.”

Nara Tōdai-ji, temple gate

The manhole covers I found in Tōdai-ji have a contemporary graphic flair. Here they are shown below:

Tōdai-ji Manhole Cover

Dots: “Nara City, XX Valve”

Tōdai-ji Manhole Cover

Lines: “Nara City, XX Valve”

Tōdai-ji Manhole Cover

Woven Basket: “Electricity”

Tōdai-ji Manhole Cover

Quarter Spheres

Tōdai-ji Manhole Cover

Bricks: “Electricity”

Tōdai-ji Manhole Cover

Spider Nets: “Disaster Prevention”

Tōdai-ji Manhole Cover


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