(via) Manholes don’t really have a second function beyond being stoppers on the vast underworld beneath us. I mean, skateboarders might appreciate them as fun objects to ollie over, but that’s the extent of it. But what if they were objects of art? They are appreciated as such – essentially unadorned – in places like Manhattan and London, but in Japan, post-war city planners allowed each municipality to design its own manhole cover as a means to raise awareness of the cost and value of their own sewage systems.
The designs reflect the identities of each area by incorporating local motifs, be they gleaned from local industry, culture, or history (often a mix). As a result, there are over 19,000 different manhole cover designs on the streets of Japan. They even make manhole trading cards!
While Vancouver does have some artfully embellished manholes – and they are appreciated – we nevertheless believe it would be very interesting to have their designs determined by the individual neighbourhoods in which they are found. This video from John Daub (ONLY In Japan) goes inside the Nagashima Imono casting factory (and beyond) to show how it’s done.