genevieve – print and pattern

print and pattern

japan: pretty manhole covers


I know they’re not words you see put together very often. But that’s what delighted me so much about spotting these patterned beauties in Matsumoto, a lovely city surrounded by the Japan Alps.

Initially I thought it was a one-off but I kept on spotting them around the city until my camera had to make an appearance. What is this country that even makes their drain covers look good? Amazing. I found that attitude to design all over Japan.

It’s only since I came home and started googling them, that I realised what a ‘thing’ it is in Japan. There are lots of blogs and books about the phenomenon, including the brilliantly named Drainspotting by Remo Camerota, which looks like a visual treat. You can even get an iPad app! According to Camerota, “In the 1980s cities began making customized manhole covers. Today nearly 95 percent of the 1,780 municipalities in Japan sport their own specially designed manhole covers.”

Well, if I was looking for an excuse to go back, there it is. Drainspotting around Japan.

You can check out lots of the other designs here (Hiroshima has got to be one of the best).

morning in matsumoto

view from matsumoto castle


2 thoughts on “japan: pretty manhole covers

  1. Fascinating! I’m always pleased by the number of graphically distinctive manhole cover designs I find here in the USA, but I’ve never seen coloured ones! I love Japanese design.

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