Gundam the Origin LED Manhole covers in Saitama Prefecture Tokorozawa Sakura Town

Manhole Cover Art, Saitama prefecture, Japan

Manhole Cover Art

I used to think I was an observant person, until my cousin sent me an article about manhole covers in Japan. I was in Japan more than 10 years when she sent me the link about the ornate manhole covers here. My first instinct was that it must be in a part of Japan that I have never visited…

Then I started looking down

Kawagoe City manhole cover art
Kawagoe City Manhole Cover
Saitama Children's Zoo Manhole Cover art
Manhole cover at Saitama Children’s Zoo
Manhole cover art Saitama

and sure enough each city’s manhole cover is different. 

Flower manhole cover art
Fujimino at Nishinohara Park
"MatsumotoManholeCover" by Original uploader was Rei at en.wikipedia - Originally from en.wikipedia; description page is/was here.. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -
“MatsumotoManholeCover” by Original uploader was Rei at en.wikipedia – Originally from en.wikipedia; description page is/was here.. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

Often they are representative of the city.  For example, I recently posted about the 100 caves of Yoshimi, which is the design of the manhole covers in the that city. 

Yoshimi Manhole Cover
Manhole Cover

Some are in colour, but most are etched into the steel without colour.

Sakura Petals on a sakura design manhole cover

In recent years, there are even anime themed manhole covers. Such as this “Lucky Star” manhole in the Washinomiya area of Kuki:

manhole cover art
Lucky Star Manhole Cover at the Washinomiya Shrine

Fire Hydrants

Even the fire hydrant manholes have their own special images.

Fire hydrant manhole cover saitama
Fire Hydrant Manhole Cover Art
Higashimatsuyama fire hydrant manhole cover
Fire hydrant source manhole cover
Hiki District Saitama

Manhole Cards

You can now (2015) buy manhole cards from select locations around Japan. They will eventually become more widespread, but right now only a handful of places have them. In Saitama, one place I know of that already sells the coveted collector cards is the Saitama Museum of Rivers in Yorii.

LED / Anime Manhole Covers

Update: Since November 2020, thanks to Tokorozawa Sakura Town, Saitama Prefecture now has 28 LED anime manhole covers. Moreover, since November 2021 we have some Pokemon Manhole Covers too. More information:

So if you plan to come to Japan, remember to look down! Not only will you see something unique to Japan, but you will also learn something about the area you are visiting.  For those who have visited or live here;  have / did you notice/d them!?

There is a fantastic selection of manholes over at the Land of Wa;

The wonderful blogger behind Shizuoka gourmet often blogs about this topic and I see he recently posted an in-depth article about it, with fantastic photos, be sure to check it out.

Update: This was the very first post in a series I used to call Manhole Monday. For a while, I shared a different manhole cover each Monday. I am sorry if you came to this post from a redirect from my old “Manhole Monday” posts. Unfortunately, I discontinued that series around 2019, deleted the posts and redirected the old posts to this one. I will try and update this one from time to time with some new ones. And at some stage I hope to add the photos from the Manhole Monday posts into this one.

No Comments

    1. I am not sure if they are unique to Japan, but I’m guessing there are very few places, if any at all, that do this. It’s fun seeking out the colored ones. ????

    1. I love finding the colored ones now. It is a bit of fun finding them and they definitely bring a smile to my face. ????

  1. How fantastic! I like to think that it brightens the day of people that are too sad to look up…

    1. That is a nice thought, or when a wet windy dismal day forces our gaze downwards, we’re reminded of sunnier days! And I’m wondering now if maybe manhole covers were one of the few things to survive the tsunami up North…I hope so. ????

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