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Thursday, 9th July 2015
In General Japan News,

Artist draws attention to Japan's colourful manhole covers

Manhole covers are familiar to most of us and the majority that we come across in our daily lives are fairly mundane, but that is not the case in Japan.

All across the country, these functional items have been given a creative overhaul to become objects of beauty that can be appreciated by the average passerby.

An Australian artist, Dennis McCart, has photographed a large number of these manhole covers for his latest exhibition Beneath my Feet.

He said: "While other nations mass-produce banal iron circles by the thousands, the Japanese create beautiful works of public art.

"Public art is crucial to keeping urban life vibrant and interesting, but outdoor space is too often reserved for advertising."

But Mr McCart is not the only person who has noticed the colourful creations, with various Flickr accounts showing photos taken on them by people visiting Japan.

Ordinary travellers can create their own collections of the stunning designs, simply by wondering around cities taking photos.

They represent a great way to add an extra dimension to the standard walking tour.

The manhole colours are custom-made for each town and city, generally with the patterns depicted in relief on the metal, which is often also painted.

Popular themes include landmarks and elements of Japan's cultural history, decorative flora and fauna, local festivals and even designs by school children.

Manholes have been painted in Japan since the 1980s and drain spotting is a popular pastime with both locals and tourists.

It is thought that 95 per cent of the 1,780 municipalities in Japan have decorated manhole covers, making the number of individual designs at around 40,000.