Manhole Monday: Takamatsu

Oh, summertime. You have arrived with a vengeance. My plans for the week include leaving the comfort of my air-conditioned apartment purely to seek out chilled noodles (hiyashi) and shaved ice (kakigori) before returning once more to the bearable temperature of my apartment.

This, of course, is a good thing for all of you readers out there, as being “confined” to my house might mean I get some actual blogging done for once. I admit, there’s far too many diversions here in Tokyo, making it much more difficult to want to stay home and get work accomplished!

I haven’t posted a manhole photo in a while, so let’s remedy that with this very artistic discovery from Takamatsu, in Kagawa Prefecture (Shikoku):


Not only is this an extremely colorful and beautifully rendered cover, it has a very interesting story behind it.

Back around 1180, a one-year-old boy ascended to the Imperial throne of Japan. The Imperial court was fiercely divided into two camps – the Taira, who supported the infant Antoku’s claim to the throne, and the Minamoto, who wanted to … change the status quo.

The Taira fled Kyoto for Kobe and then, after being rousted from there by the Minamoto, they hid out on the island of Yashima just off Shikoku. The Minamoto chased them there, but lost their sizable fleet in the process in a storm on the Inland Sea. The Taira didn’t know this, and dug themselves in on Yashima, expecting an attack from the sea any day. The Minamoto, meanwhile, had landed their surviving samurai on the beach of Yashima. They didn’t have enough soldiers to defeat the Taira in battle, so they engaged in a bit of suberfuge.

Lighting fires along a beach south of Yashima, the Minamoto scared the Taira into thinking that they had been flanked by a massive enemy force. The Taira fled by sea, and would lose the war decisively a few months later at the Battle of Dan-no-ura. But as they fled Yashima, they raised a fan from one of their ships (check out the left side of the cover) to taunt the Minamoto. One of the Minamoto warriors chased them on his horse into the sea, took aim with his bow, and sent an arrow spiraling through the fan on the standard.

If that wasn’t a sign of what was to come for the Taira, I don’t know what was …

4 thoughts on “Manhole Monday: Takamatsu

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  1. Beautiful Manhole cover and interesting story! I showed it to Joe and his comment was, ” If we had those covers here they would probably ne stolen!”. Sad but most likely true!

    1. The manhole covers usually have a significance to them, though not all of the tell a story. For example, the manhole cover of Kumamoto is the camellia. Seems boring but one of the lords of Kumamoto was famous for developing a certain breed of camellia, called the Higo camellia (Higo is the old name of the region in which Kumamoto is located). Sometimes the cover reflects local scenery or a special activity (ie the one in Saitama’s Nagatoro shows people rafting down the river on a traditional-style boat, which you can do there).

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