Manhole Cover From Ginza Tokyo
Just like street trees, there's a whole world of Web content related to manhole covers in Tokyo. And for good reason. Above is a photo of one of the many covers that I came across on my walks around the Ginza neighborhood on my recent trip to Tokyo.
Based on this post from Japan Visitor, is either a combined sewage system or water supply cover and has the four icons in the middle light up in colors of orange, green and blue. And the variety of covers that one could come across in Tokyo are there by design. Literally. From this story Japan Wonderland comes this description:
According to some sources, in the late 1980s, there was a Construction Specialist from the Public Sewer Division, Ministry of Construction who advocated the use original designs for each municipality in the hope that it would improve the image of the sewage industry and make it more appealing to the general community. Everyone seemed to think that that’s a great idea. Almost every year competitions are held for the best manhole covers. Municipalities and their organizations have been competing with each other since then to design the best manhole covers.
They sure beat the manhole covers we have around here in Chicago and the suburbs design-wise, doesn't it? Forget municipal flag design contests. Maybe the next thing we'll see is manhole cover design contests here in the United States?