Manhole Monday: Osaka

It might sound silly, but I get really excited about Japan’s manhole covers. That’s because over 1500 communities in Japan – ranging from tiny villages to megacities – have specially designed manhole covers that showcase what makes their town known. It’s literally a piece of art beneath a traveler’s feet. I hope you enjoy this bimonthly series on Japan’s coolest manhole covers.

Osaka gets the short shrift. Not quite as cool as Tokyo, not as historical as Kyoto, just generally not on many tourist’s radar. One thing it does have (besides some really good food)? A pretty impressive castle.

An Osaka manhole cover featuring Osaka Castle

The current Osaka castle is ferro-concrete, rebuilt in part after the bombing raids of World War II. The original castle, however, was built in 1583 by Hideyoshi Toyotomi, the guy who pretty much unified all of Japan. Even for medieval Japan, the castle was a thing of beauty, more impressive than its counterparts.

It was a little too symbolic, however, for Tokugawa Ieyasu, who became shogun (military ruler) upon Hideyoshi’s death. He destroyed the castle in 1615 and rebuilt it in his own style.

The flowers on the cover are cherry blossoms – the castle park is home to about 600 cherry trees that bloom in April.

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