This post is part of a series on artistic manhole covers around Japan.
This is the manhole cover that started it all. For me, at least. I don’t really know which municipality in Japan actually had the first designed manhole cover, but this was the first time I ever really noticed the art beneath my feet.
Obuse is a small town in Nagano Prefecture, nestled up against the mountains a short distance from Nagano City. Aside from supplying some pretty tasty apples to the surrounding markets, Obuse is most known for being the birthplace of Hokusai, one of Japan’s ukiyo-e masters.
Hok-what now, I hear you all ask? You probably don’t recognize his name, but you’ve definitely seen his iconic wave print before, other than on Obuse’s streets. Here’s what the manhole cover artist was going for:
The Great Wave Off Kanagawa was part of Hokusai’s impressive Thirty-Six Views of Mt Fuji series. It catapulted him to fame, became one of the most recognized pieces of Japanese art worldwide, and made Obuse a place of pilgrimage for woodblock print admirers from around the globe.