Japan's beautiful manhole covers get a book and iPad app

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Drainspotting” puts Remo Camerota’s popular blog of Japanese manholes into a square-shaped book of amazing construction and bizarre imagery. As the title suggests, Drainspotting requires an eye for the odd bursts of color along city streets.


Camerota transformed his obsession into a startling gallery of funny, strange and delicately designed drain covers. The strong colors in many of the discs create an effect of otherworldly being. They appear too strong, too imaginative to serve such a utilitarian function.

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The covers are part of a 20 year beautification program between the cities and various foundries to make manhole covers that reflect the particular culture of the city in which it’s located. In an interview with Nagashima Foundry president Hirotaka Nagashima, he explains, “we here at Nagashima suggested designs for manhole covers that represented something about the city. The cities and towns tell us of particular elements that they require, which can be from a myth, building, panoramic view or character of the locality.”

“Drainspotting” neatly maps notable covers with a map orienting them within Japan. Through this approach, Camerota builds a window into the society, both unique and fantastic.


In tandem with the book’s release, an iPad App is available that offers a sneak peek into the book, including the introduction and beautiful, crisp pictures. There’s Doramu the dragon (bottom), birds and a dramatic sunset, autumn leaves and illuminating photos of the Nagashima Foundary’s process.

The book sells from Amazon or Mark Batty.

See more images in the gallery below.