Front cover image for Drainspotting : [Japanese manhole covers]

Drainspotting : [Japanese manhole covers]

Remo Camerota (Author)
In Japan, modern sewer systems began to appear during the late 19th century, though evidence of sewage systems in the country dates back to over 2,000 years ago. Foreign engineers introduced the Japanese to modern, underground sewer systems with above ground access points called manhoru (manholes). At that time, manhole covers utilized the geometric designs similar to those used in other countries. In the 1980s, communities outside of Japans major cities were slated to receive new sewer systems these public works projects were met with resistance. One dedicated bureaucrat solved the problem by devising a way to make these mostly invisible systems aesthetically appreciated aboveground: customized manhole covers. Because the Japanese raise design in all aspects of life to a new level, this idea was welcomed, and even though custom manhole covers cost more than generic ones, today nearly 95 percent of the 1,780 municipalities in Japan sport their very own specially designed manhole covers. Designs range from images that evoke a regions cultural identity, from flora and fauna to landmarks and local festivals to fanciful images dreamed up by school children. In Kyoto, a turtle adorns the citys manhole covers, signifying wisdom and longevity. Unsurprisingly, this phenomenon has bred another phenomenon: manhoru mania. A rabid - online community, based in Japan and abroad, has developed around these pieces of city sanctioned urban art. Several blogs and websites dedicated these manhole covers provide details about locations and designs. With numerous colorful photographs organized by region, Drainspotting is the first book to document yet another wholly distinct aspect of contemporary Japanese visual culture
Print Book, English, 2010
Mark Batty Publisher, New York, 2010
95 pages.
9780982075470, 0982075472