Japan Cleans Up with New Manhole Cover Art

Japan’s sewage industry has found a new way to clean up its image and remake its reputation. They have done this by making elaborate and beautiful manhole covers with 12,000 varieties all over the country. The designs are not only pretty to look at; it is also a guide to the place where they are featured. This can be anything form history, folklore, or even specialty goods produced in the area.


The manhole designs appeal to the nation’s love of art, attention to details, and “kawaii” or cute designs. The manhole covers adorn the streets of over 1,700 towns, cities, and villages all over Japan. It has even spawned a collection among social media photographers to document all manhole cover art. The history of decorating manhole covers is actually a rich and old tradition. It has been done in the country for at least 40 years, in an attempt to improve the image of the sewer system.


The city of Tama, located in western area of Tokyo, are using the manhole art to showcase a modern Japanese icon of Hello Kitty. These manhole cover art pieces were made to attract tourists and to the town’s Hello Kitty theme park.

“We’d be happy if people come and take some time for a stroll in our town while looking for the Hello Kitty manholes,” said Mikio Narashima, who heads the city’s sewage system division. The city has installed the first of the planned 10 designed covers that have Hello Kitty art all over the manholes. The new designs will be installed gradually throughout the month.

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