Japan Manhole Covers

Manhole monday

01 May, 2011 by

No matter how many times one returns to Japan, it never fails to amaze exactly how much effort the locals put into things. Pride for their country, community and even neighborhood are reflected everywhere in little things. In this case, it’s these artistic and sometimes amusing Japanese manhole covers that caught my attention. This is a compiled list of the many unique drain covers I’ve seen so far.

The Japanese seem to have a thing for emblems. It is not just cities but individual districts often have their own original manhole designs too. In fact, if you broke down Japan into its 1,780 different districts, you’d learn that 95% of them have at least one custom manhole design to call their own. At last count, there were over 2,700 variants throughout Japan. So this article barely scrapes the top.

Tsurumi Ryokuchi, Osaka. Commemorating the International Garden and Greenery Exposition.

Osaka Shinsekai.




Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo.

Koganei, Tokyo.

Same. But it's interesting that the dirt actually turns it into a two color design.

Shinjuku, Tokyo.

Ueno, Tokyo.

Musashino, Tokyo.

For comparison’s sake, here’s a rare manhole we found in one of the better parts of Singapore. Perhaps it’s because of the monsoon weather but most drainage in Singapore is kept open or covered by metal grills at best.


Interestingly, whatever the country lacks in artistic sense it makes up for with its rich ecology. As the local police answer to 2 to 3 reports of people encountering snakes in their drainage each week.

Planning your holiday? We recommend visiting Agoda for a full list of hotels with early bird specials.


Supermerlion's Webmaster and Editor-in-Chief. Singaporean Nikkeijin with over 12 years of experience in the media industry. Producer at a Japanese entertainment company. Former Web Developer, Graphic Designer, Multimedia Programmer, Manager and Consultant. Shoots with a Canon 5Dmk2 and Sony RX100-2.