Drain Spotting

On the first full day in Japan, I looked down onto the street pavement and saw something that made me realize that we were definitely NOT in the United States any more.

What was seen?


A manhole cover for the fire department, for access to water mains. They do not make them like this in Amurrica.

This first sighting turned me into a drain spotter.

Municipalities have their own designs.

Yokosuka’s manhole covers show Commodore Matthew C. Perry.


Perry’s mid-nineteenth century arrival bullied Japan into ending a long period of excluding most foreigners. I first learned about the Commodore from philately. The US issued this centennial five cent stamp in in 1953.

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Yokosuka’s covers feature cherry blossoms.


Yokohama’s show some of their spectacular suspension bridges.


Smaller covers, for utilities, dot streets and sidewalks.




Even the plainest of covers include elements of design that move them a notch past “ho hum” utilitarian.


I’m illiterate when it comes to Japanese.

Were I not so handicapped, I could tell you more about each of these.


Anti-slip grid patterns came in various shapes.

Here is honeycomb.


Here’s one with an amaryllis family spider lily.


Not all covers are fresh and clean. Here’s a beauty from a roadside vacant lot.


I find this as lovely as one of those unexpected chance views in a Japanese garden. 

I may add a few more photos, as the processing of these Japan photos continues.

But that about covers it for now.


3 responses to “Drain Spotting

  1. We bought some crayons to do rubbings when we were in Florence, the covers would have made great rubbings! rebecca

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