Manhole Monday

Manhole Monday: Uruma

This post is part of a series on artistic manhole covers around Japan.

It’s a time of great change in my household this week. After three years of subtropical living in Okinawa, Japan’s southermost prefecture, the movers are coming to pack up the house and spirit away our life to Kumamoto, in Kyushu.

The city where I lived in Okinawa, Uruma City, was known for basically one thing – bull fighting. Every morning I was reminded of this fact as I stepped over the following manhole cover on my way to the car:

Uruma City’s manhole cover

That’s right. Bullfighting in Japan is a bit different from its flashier, gorier Spanish cousin. Here, the bulls go head to head with each other and it’s the rare animal that gets a horn to the hide. Most matches end rather anticlimatically, with a panel of judges deciding the victor.

The arena in Uruma still remains, but no fights are held there any longer. Instead, we have to trek up the road to Ishikawa City and the newer ferro-concrete structure. But the manhole covers will always remind me of Uruma’s history, and my ties to this island community.

6 thoughts on “Manhole Monday: Uruma

  1. How many times did I come to your house?? And I never noticed this manhole cover. When I visit you in Kumamoto, I’ll make sure to look down!

  2. Are there many decorative man-hole covers in Japan?? I lived there for 3 years (one in Tokyo, 2 in Kumamoto) and I never noticed them 😦

    • Hi S.A.M.,
      I read somewhere recently that of the nearly 1700 communities in Japan, over 1500 of them have their own manhole cover designs! It’s one of the things I love to keep my eye out for now. Interestingly enough, some of the smaller towns and villages have the most unique covers. Tokyo’s is always a bit of a disappointment to me but there are some special ones in Ueno Park, Hamarikyu Garden and Tama Zoo.
      I myself have just moved to Kumamoto where I’ll be for the next three years. Did you enjoy your time in that city?

  3. Love this series on manholes! so often we miss beautiful details. I have always found manholes interesting in various cities around the world… but had no idea they are so beautiful in Japan… thank you for sharing

    • I remember the first time I actually “noticed” one of Japan’s decorated manhole covers. Sadly, it was more than halfway through my first year in Japan and I had missed out on so many in my previous trips without knowing it! Now I try to remember to look down every time I’m somewhere new. Just last week, I went to Tama Zoo just outside Tokyo and their covers are decorated with zoo animals!

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