We all know what manhole covers are... big metallic discs that cover up entrance ways into sewer systems or waterways throughout cities the world over.
But some countries, such as Japan and The Netherlands, for example, have taken the humble manhole cover to an artistic new level.
I'm going to let Alicia Quintard take over here... she's working with 47 Regions, a small company looking to have people involved in their Kickstarter program that involves manhole cover artwork and t-shirts. I know... exciting!
Japanese Manholes: Art Under Your Feet
There is so much to see in Japan. You can look up at the skyscrapers of Tokyo, look in the distance to see the peak of Mount Fuji, look on every side of Kyoto's ancient cobble streets. But did you know that there is a whole lot to see right under your feet?
Japanese manhole covers aren't everyone's idea of typical Japanese art, but they're certainly worth discovering. Creative and unique sewer covers can be found in most of Japan's 809 cities. Each manhole design has been chosen to represent a certain aspect of the area in which it's located, whether that be the environment, the history and traditions, or the people. Some towns even have several different designs in the same city; you can go on your own art tour from street to street!
Along the same lines, Japanese manholes are bringing beauty and dirty together. Tourist and Japanese people alike love to discover the many designs while visiting various regions. The idea of collecting manhole cover pictures is so popular that the Gesuido Koho Platform Group even released manhole cards, not unlike sports cards. Each card contains a picture of the cover design, the geographic coordinates, and an explanation of the design. Since the project launched in April 2016, more than 220 designs from 46 different prefectures in Japan are available for collecting, and more than 1 million cards have been issued to date. The cards are handed out by local city offices.
So as you embark on your Japanese adventure, don't forget to look down once in a while. You might see some street art worth seeing and capturing with a picture or two!
Have you fallen in love with Japanese manholes? If so, you are like Kevin and Steven, two Irishmen who have lived in Japan for years. Just recently, they've started their own screen printing company with the motivation of putting the beautiful Japanese manhole covers on t-shirts for the world to see.
If you're looking to wear your love of Japanese manholes on your chest, 47Regions has got just the project for you. There are currently five (5) designs to choose from, and the t-shirts are available in a wide selection of colors and sizes. If you're interested, please check out the project here: . You can also check out @47Regions on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
|Another manhole cover from Kawaguchiko.|
There ya go! I am not being paid for this or being gifted in anything in trade, even though I am an "American" XL. I present this to you because it actually looks like a cool thing, and maybe some of you who like wearing t-shirts would be interested in.
PS: All images courtesy of 47Regions
PPS: The name 47Regions is, I am sure, derived from the fact that there are 47 prefectures in Japan. Actually, the name is MORE correct, as there are actually 43 prefectures (県 ken) proper, two urban prefectures (府 fu, Osaka and Kyoto), one "circuit" or "territory" (道 dō, Hokkaido) and one "metropolis" (都 to, Tokyo).