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The beautiful art of... Japanese manhole covers

Imagine if we put as much attention to detail into the Irish versions…
Feb 10th 2013, 5:00 PM 11,265 23

GIVEN THEIR FUNCTION, perhaps it is no surprise that the average Irish person doesn’t give much thought to the design of manhole covers.

An integral part of the urban landscape, they are designed to blend in and not remind passers-by of what may lurk beneath.

But in Japan, manhole covers are treated as objects that deserve to stand out, and are afforded the sort of attention normally given to the more salubrious elements of the man-made landscape.

The beautiful manhole covers below are among those collected on the Flickr site Japanese Manhole Covers, where you can see how some areas go for colourful, cartoonish covers, and others go for muted tones with classic Japanese symbols like the cherry blossom or Mount Fuji, while some cities prefer to depict abstract images on theirs.

These manhole covers show that you can make any functional item a work of art. For further reading, why not pick up the book Drainspotting, which explores how the customised covers were introduced in the 1980s.

VIDEO: This is how they queue for the football in Japan>

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Aoife Barry

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