Number One in the World

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Manhole Cover with Cardioid MeshAmerican manhole covers are disks of metal designed to cover holes. This is a very functional description and, I think, it captures the essence of how we design our covers from a very functional position. Japanese manhole covers are, in contrast, a form of expression, or advertising. Mino Manhole Square Crop 1After taking some photos of the manholes in Mino city and putting them on Flickr, I was contacted by the Japanese Manhole Covers group and asked to add my photos into the pool.

Hippo Design High Voltage ManholeWhile American manhole covers have traditionally been very boring with basic cross-hatching for non-slip qualities; Japanese manholes have been adorned with all sorts of creative designs. The last several years have seen an explosion of art carved covers with elaborate designs. Clean Water Valve Cover in IzushiOften these covers show off the regional identity of some town or city. Birds, flowers, tourist attractions, just about anything is fair game.

Manhole CoverWell, realizing that with all my travel, I was literally walking right over myriad covers. Being aware that people around the world have interest in the group, I decided to start collecting photos and uploading them to the group pool. Yokkaichi Decorative CoverI have been taking them from a technical perspective: shooting at a 90 degree angle; taking a photo of every type and variation I see; providing descriptions. This has paid off with me being the number one contributor at this point. Kind of an odd distinction.

Tsu Sewer CoverFrom this point on, I think I will reduce my activity level and take pictures only of art carved covers or particularly unique covers. (Although I might try to snap all of the Tsu covers.) Fire Water Cistern CoverAlso, I might try catching them with interesting lighting, angles, etc. I snapped a fire water cistern cover in Seki Juku from a low angle with an 18mm lens as a sign.

If you’re interested, please take a look at my collection.

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4 Responses to “Number One in the World”

  1. fightingwindmills Says:

    Your collection is fun to look at. The angled one from Seki Juku has a nice composition. I don’t know why, but I like that the feet and the small leaf also got included in that photo.

  2. びっくり Says:

    Oh, yes, I forgot to mention that my friend Mari is in the background: those are her feet. 🙂 Thanks for the positive feedback.

  3. kevenker Says:

    Very cool. I hate to think you are going to reduce the number of photos you’re going to take though! 🙂

  4. びっくり Says:

    I was taking photos of any cover with even the slightest variation. I’m guessing most people don’t need to know there is a cover with the same pattern, but has a P carved in the lower left, etc., We’ll see though.

    I figured people mostly want to see the art carved lids; although, there is one German who wanted more detail on a pipe bracket. Do I want to excite the engineers or the normal folks?…

    I am tempted to shoot up all the stuff I have found in Tsu though. I found another foundry recently. Anyhow, tomorrow I will go to the sumo tournament and get some photos of monstrously huge guys fighting.

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