Manhole Covers Highlight Local Features

Recently, manhole covers are attracting attention.

This is because they are emblazoned with cartoon characters or buildings that have a connection to the local area. There has even been an increase in the number of so called “manhole-joshi,” that is women who like to take pictures of unique “design manhole” covers. A panel discussion event called “Manhole Summit” has been held since 2014.

There is a website named “Hirake (Open)! Manhole” for fans of manhole covers. Visitors to the site can display pictures of various covers posted from inside and outside of Japan, this website also has plenty of information about related merchandise and events. The company that runs the website is HINODE, Ltd., a major manufacturer of manhole covers. “Essentially, rather than advertising
our company, it’s a site dedicated to the appreciation of manholes. We hope to publicize Japanese manhole covers in general,” says YAMADA Hideto of the company’s publicity department.

Since it was launched in February 2014, the website has been viewed approximately 230,000 times in about 18 months, and television and magazine coverage has increased. “I did not expect it would generate so much interest in such a short time,” says Yamada. Through operating the website, Yamada realized that manhole covers are particularly suited to being photographed and then uploaded to social networking sites. “When a cover is shared on blogs and Twitter, its design introduces a local specialty and also makes a great souvenir of a trip.”

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