City in Japan lights up sewer covers

“These are the first lighted manhole covers in Japan,” says Tokorozawa official

The humble manhole cover may not look like a blank canvas, but a Japanese town is reimagining the possibilities with illuminated versions featuring anime characters.

Tokorozawa, near Tokyo, hopes the unusual additions will draw visitors, including enthusiasts to the painted and decorated manhole covers that adorn some streets in Japan.

“These are the first lighted manhole covers in Japan,” city official Junichi Koike told AFP.

Japan is no stranger to decorative manhole covers, offering everything from ornately engraved versions to ones painted with city mascots.

Cities have been beautifying them for at least 4 decades, with the aim of improving the image of the sanitation system.

A subculture of manhole cover fans has sprung up, with enthusiasts sharing information on social media about their favorite builds under the hashtag #manhotalk.

“The ‘manholes’ like to discover different types of manhole covers,” Koike said.

“We hope that the new illuminated ones will further improve the dirty and smelly manhole image and also revitalize the local economy by attracting visitors.”

A total of 28 manhole covers were installed across the city on August 1, featuring anime characters like the robot Gundam and the sci-fi anime series “Neon Genesis Evangelion” and the TV series “The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya”.

japan anime manhole covers
A sample of sewer manhole covers in Japan with different designs.


The covers light up from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. using solar power, illuminating the sidewalks that lead from the city’s main train station to a new cultural complex, complete with an anime museum.

They are part of the project in which the city collects revenue by allowing private companies – in this case the large media group Kadokawa – to use manhole covers for advertising purposes.

But while city officials say the extra street lighting could act as a deterrent to crime, security guards must extend their patrols to get past the covers in case someone tries to steal or steal them. cause damage.

The blankets have so far received a positive reception, from enthusiasts and local residents alike.

“They are more lit than I expected,” Kaoru Morita, 55, a manhole fan, told AFP.

“Usually when you’re looking for looks, they’re actually not that easy to spot. But I can see where they are from afar, so it’s useful for someone like me looking for them.

Tatsuhiko Sato, 29, who lives in the city, admits he was a little surprised to see the covers at first.

“But it was a nice surprise. The animations I always watch can also be enjoyed that way. It’s also fun for kids.

There are around 15 million manhole covers in Japan, but only a fraction have painted designs, driving the cost of a cover from around $600 to sometimes double that.

The cost of the illuminated covers was not disclosed, but is covered by the sponsor, and the funky feature will remain in place as long as the company continues to pay for it. –

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