Join 3,553 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Japanese painted manhole covers
May 3, 2012 3:54 PM   Subscribe

Japanese painted manhole covers
posted by roll truck roll (23 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite

 
Many people don't know why manhole covers are circular rather than square. The better question is why do people paint on square canvases instead of round ones?
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:16 PM on May 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


These are cool. I love when cities incorporate good art into the infrastructure.

twoleftfeet, my guess is because a square canvas sits better on a flat surface and flat surfaces are easier to make than a surface that is curved upward to hold a circle canvas.
posted by Defenestrator at 4:25 PM on May 3, 2012


Wowwwww.
posted by sklero at 4:26 PM on May 3, 2012


What gets me is that these aren't just painted, they appear to be hand crafted. The texture in the iron is different for each cover.
posted by chemoboy at 4:29 PM on May 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ahahaha wow. These are really fantastic.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:29 PM on May 3, 2012


Many people don't know why manhole covers are circular rather than square.

It's because manholes are round. Duh.
posted by aubilenon at 4:31 PM on May 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


This is great, thank you! I've seen a few of these in person and had always wondered if there was anyone out there that had published an album of all of them.
posted by Kevtaro at 4:43 PM on May 3, 2012


I wonder what kind of paint they're using that it can stand up to traffic. Or are these in sidewalks? Because repainting them would be a much bigger proposition than, say, restriping the road.
posted by HotToddy at 4:45 PM on May 3, 2012


They have unique, though less colorful manhole covers in Gatineau, Quebec as well. It always surprised me, because the roads were in awful condition, yet they had these beautiful things scattered everywhere in plain sight.
posted by peppermind at 4:45 PM on May 3, 2012


I love these. Last time I was in Japan, I was wandering slightly delirious through the more-or-less nowhere town of Kuwana in Mie Prefecture, waiting for my hotel room to be ready, and utility covers were the only thing that kept me focused on where I was going. There was one design that had little dancing clams on it, and that made a fairly grueling day OK.

Or are these in sidewalks?

I have mostly seen them in sidewalks.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:47 PM on May 3, 2012


Wow, these wouldn't last a minute in NYC. They already steal unadorned manhole covers here.
posted by Splunge at 4:52 PM on May 3, 2012


twoleftfeet: The better question is why do people paint on square canvases instead of round ones?

Because stretching a round canvas is a lot harder than stretching a rectangular canvas, and that's still not an easy task.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:54 PM on May 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


>Many people don't know why manhole covers are circular rather than square

Because they cannot fall through the hole. OK. now everyone else knows too.

See also the story about Feynman and the Microsoft interview.

I wish I knew more about these covers. They're quite beautiful and awesome.
posted by wilful at 5:15 PM on May 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would love a set of these photos to hang on the walls in my house.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 6:18 PM on May 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you like these, check out the book Drainspotting: Japanese Manhole Covers.
posted by bstreep at 6:35 PM on May 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


HotToddy writes "I wonder what kind of paint they're using that it can stand up to traffic. Or are these in sidewalks? Because repainting them would be a much bigger proposition than, say, restriping the road."

All the paint seems to be in the relief areas of the casting. I've seen regular crosshatched man hole covers where a road line has been painted across and the paint seems to last forever in the relief. Sometimes you see the same cover with multiple lines painted across it from the cover rotating and multiple line paintings. The raised areas of the casting protect the paint from wear.
posted by Mitheral at 7:19 PM on May 3, 2012


check out the book Drainspotting: Japanese Manhole Covers.

Drainspotting is a Thing, you know. There are very many beautiful manhole covers all over the world and people have been tracking them for years. For example, check out the links at drainspotting.com.

I really like this sort of thing and I think it's indeed what the Internet was meant for. Where are the most beautiful light switches in the world? Show me some elevator buttons that change the way I look at elevator buttons. How do other people in other parts of the world handle the problem of napkin dispensers? Can I learn something from napkin dispensers?

When they invented the Internet, did they know it would lead to this? Did they know that people would spend hours thinking about curious designs for salt shakers and toenail clippers? I doubt it. But these things are important, and we need more of this.
posted by twoleftfeet at 7:39 PM on May 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


I could have sworn I'd seen this on the Blue before. Guess not. About time, though — fantastic stuff.
posted by DoctorFedora at 11:42 PM on May 3, 2012


Chewing gum art also adds unexpected interest to the mundane. Previously on Metafilter.
posted by asok at 4:26 AM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why are manhole covers not Rouleaux triangles?
posted by miyabo at 12:32 PM on May 4, 2012


Manhole covers need to be cast. It's a lot easier to make a pattern for a circle.
posted by Mitheral at 1:18 PM on May 4, 2012


Regarding why they're circles: because there's no wrong way to orient them when you put them in?
posted by ocherdraco at 8:28 AM on May 7, 2012


Pretty sure it's because circular passages confuse CHUDs.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:33 AM on May 7, 2012


« Older James William Buel was a journalist, author, and e...  |  In 2273, after having been tho... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments