Day: November 7, 2023

Kyoto, the Japanese city often referred to as the country’s cultural capital, is renowned for its historic temples, its unique gardens—and its manhole covers. Unlike most sewage covers across the globe, Japan’s manhole lids are an unusual canvas for original artwork. Fans of the elaborately decorated covers, a group known as “drainspotters” or “manholers,” can now get their hands on three historic models, as Kyoto’s municipal government is, for the first time, offering up the covers to the public.

Manhole with painting of Mount Fuji on it
Japan’s manholes feature complex designs, colorful paintings and depictions of pop culture. Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The intricate lids have long been a source of revenue for Japan’s sewer system and a tourism draw. In response to rising interest in the covers as a collectible item, Kyoto is now putting three different obsolete versions, manufactured in 1978, 1981 and 1990, up for sale, according to The Mainichi Shimbun. While new maintenance hole lids typically cost around 60,000 yen ($400), the city’s municipal government will sell the covers for only 5,500 yen ($37) each.

The iron lids, which weigh up to 90 kg, feature designs specific to Kyoto. One displays a pattern of “court carriage” wheels, while the others show the city’s emblem at the center. As the covers have been in use for more than 30 years, they also exhibit signs of wear.

Why does Japan have such intricate manhole covers?

Custom manhole designs can be found in 95 percent of Japan’s municipalities and often contain references to the specific region’s history and culture. Even Kyoto University has its own sewage cover, complete with the institution’s abbreviation in Japanese. Hello Kitty designs are on manholes across Tama City, while Osaka’s include depictions of its famous castle. And in Hiroshima, the city’s baseball team has been honored on

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It’s just shy of 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, September 26, and Dior’s Spring/Summer 2024 show is moments from claiming the Paris Fashion Week stage. The street outside the venue is packed with fans, and a black BMW 7 Series’ slow approach incites their feverish cheers. BLACKPINK’s Jisoo emerges from the vehicle with a four-man security detail, wearing the House’s latest designs and waving like a royal to the sea of unfamiliar faces that have been waiting just to catch a glimpse of her brisk excursion to the door from behind a comfortably-distanced barricade. This appearance, coupled with her front-row attendance at the show, garnered $1.6 million USD worth of media impact value (MIV), or online visibility. The echo mentions, or “buzz” surrounding her presence, added an extra $6.5 million USD to the total, according to online data platform Launchmetrics. In fact, Jisoo’s attendance at the Dior show alone earned more MIV than 86% of brands showcasing at the biannual fashion affair.

K-pop is this decade’s international music supernova: as it exploded from Seoul to the world, groups like BTS and BLACKPINK have corralled fandoms that level the likes of those for Beyoncé and Taylor Swift while smashing worldwide release charts and effortlessly selling out stadium tours. At first, the fashion industry was slow to welcome the South Korean stars into its notoriously exclusive circle (BTS only attended their first fashion show for Louis Vuitton in 2021, despite having debuted in 2013 and earned several No. 1 hits in the years prior), but once their inclusion was proven unprecedentedly valuable, the show invites, collaborations and ambassadorships came flowing in abundance.

In the last year alone, Cartier named BTS’ Kim Taehyung (otherwise known as V) its newest global ambassador; Loewe drafted NCT’s Taeyong; Prada enlisted all seven members of ENHYPEN; Valentino signed

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