SPECIAL
E-mon Guide

It’s An Art!!
Manhole Covers that Colorfully Decorate
the Streets of Osaka.

2019.06.27

Manholes can be found all over the road and you will see lots of them in Osaka.
These manholes were built to provide easy access for checking and repairing defects in the underground structures and water pipes.
In recent decades the manhole covers have evolved with rich, vivid designs.

01

Regional Manhole Covers Rich in Design

Once upon a time, no one thought twice about the design of manhole covers; it was merely an indicator for the inspectors that blended in with the road.
Today, beautifully designed manhole covers are street art that enhances the environment. They have quietly become a boom.
There are over 12,000 variety of manhole covers in Japan. “Manholers,” who enjoy taking pictures of these manhole designs, have also appeared.
Particularly, regional manholes are getting attention as they emphasize locality by depicting the characteristics of a particular region and perhaps even a local mascot. They are gaining popularity as a theme for travel, because you simply cannot take a picture of these manhole covers without visiting the region.

Surely, you can find manhole covers with special designs overseas, but Japanese manhole covers are getting the attention of international visitors for their sheer number as well as the diversity of designs.
And, each of these manholes is hand-painted—where else can you find such skills and dedication but in the land of takumi (master craftsman) Japan!!

The colorful manhole covers are indeed an art here.

02

Find Them in Osaka

Nearest station: Osaka Metro Misoduji Line’s Hommachi Station

Osaka Castle Manhole

The manhole cover with the design of Osaka Castle probably is a good representative of this phenomena in Osaka. The magnificently painted castle is surrounded by cherry blossoms, Osaka City’s official tree, and waves that represent the aquapolis (city of water).

A rare version of the Osaka Castle manhole, with a dark blue sky and brown waves, is located at the north end of Shinsaibashi-suji shopping street. Can you find it?

EXPO ’90 Commemorative Manhole Cover

Manhole covers with the design of Expo ‘90 mascots were created to commemorate the International Garden and Greenery Exposition in Osaka.
Maybe a new manhole cover will be designed for the 2025 World Expo in Osaka? How exciting!

Nearest station: Osaka Metro Midosuji Line’s Namba Station

A Manhole Cover with Osakan Dialect?!

You can find a manhole cover filled with Osakan vibes—one that has Osakan dialects written on it—in Namba! How many Osakan dialects do you recognize?

03

Collect Regional “Manhole Cards”!!

“Manhole Cards” depict the manhole cover designs that can be found throughout Japan. The ninth edition has been released most recently and a cumulative total of 478 variety of designs from 407 local municipalities have been published. Of course, our beloved Osaka is part of these collectible cards! You can get Osaka manhole cards from the Construction Bureau’s Sewer and River Control Division at City Hall or at the Osaka ATC Green Eco Plaza. For the Osaka prefectural manhole cards, go a little further out of the city to the Konoike Mizu Mirai Center or Skyland HARADA where you can also see an exhibit of local manhole designs.

You do need to visit in person to obtain these cards free of charge, but it’s restricted to one card per person.

Cities around Osaka also distribute their own cards—an excellent reason to travel around Osaka prefecture!

Osaka City Manhole Cards

Sewer and River Control Division, Construction Bureau, Osaka City Government

  • [Address] ATC ITM Building 6F, 2-1-10, NankoKita, Suminoe-ku, Osaka
  • [Distribution] Weekdays 9:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. & 1:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. (Excludes Saturdays, Sundays, Public Holidays, and New Year Holidays)

Osaka ATC Green Eco Plaza

  • [Address] ATC ITM Building 11F West, 2-1-10, Nankokita, Suminoe-ku, Osaka
  • [Distribution] Saturdays, Sundays, and Public Holidays 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • [Access] Approx. 3-minute walk from Trade Center-mae Station (Exit 2).