Japan’s manhole cover location community

Late last year I made a quick blurb of a post about how extraordinary something as simple as a manhole cover in Japan can be and personally I think that some of the intricate designs are a a work of art. Recently my regular browsing of Japan related news turned up and interest manhole cover related discover on Mainichi daily news. There was a lengthy news item about people who travel Japan looking for uniquely designed manhole covers and how a website has sprung up with the sole purpose of documenting the location of these covers for “ardent manhole cover buffs.” Talk about putting Google Earth, cell phone cameras, the internet and global positioning satellite technology to good use…hold on, that is good use right?

Visit the Ittemia Zensen website (Japanese)

It was good to learn why so many of the manhole covers in Japan are designed the way they are:

It’s estimated that there are 25 million manholes in Japan, of which around 12 million cover sewers, according to the Japan Ground Manhole Industry Association. In 1983, when the sewer penetration ratio was only 33 percent, the Construction Ministry demanded that manufacturers make manhole covers with distinctive designs in order to raise awareness of sewer construction. In 1986, 20 sewer manhole covers were selected for their unique designs, and since then local municipalities competed to design manhole covers specific to their areas.

New mashup Web site reveals the hole story behind Japan’s manhole covers