Everyone knows that Japan loves Pokemon, and you can find these cute creatures’ images just about anywhere in the country. Some less common knowledge about Japan is that it has customised manhole covers in every prefecture that are works of art! That’s right, we are talking about those round disks on the ground covering utility shaft entrances that most people walk over every day without even thinking about.
Across Japan’s cities, manhole covers are commonly designed to represent something special about that city or prefecture, showcasing a famous landmark, mascot character, or food to name a few examples.
So what happens when you combine Japan’s love of Pokemon and its artistic manhole covers? Well, you get these adorable pieces of art that are springing up across the country right under everyone’s feet! Many prefectures are changing their manhole covers to ones featuring beautiful Pokemon-themed motifs. They’re easy to miss if you don’t know to look for them, which is why we are here to give you the scoop!
The Poke Lid Initiative
So what’s the story behind these new Pokemon manhole covers? They have been showing up since around summer 2019, and according to the project’s website, they’re called “Poke Lids.” The reason that they are suddenly beginning to appear across Japan is that Digletts around the country have been tunnelling and leaving huge holes! Of course, these holes have to be covered up for everyone’s safety. In order to differentiate between manholes created by humans and those created by Pokemon, the Diglett holes are being covered with Poke Lids!
This may sound like a farfetch’d tale to you, but we took it right from the Poke Lid website! And since Japan is the birthplace of Pokemon, it stands to reason that there might well be wild Digletts there tunnelling around under everyone’s feet. It’s certainly a lot more fun to believe that, anyway!
The Significance Behind the Choices
The Pokemon that have been chosen for the regions in Japan are not at all random. Just like the usual manhole covers that display something unique and special about that region or city in Japan, the Poke Lids are doing the same thing. For example, Miyagi Prefecture is most famous for its dinosaur museum and the large number of fossils that have been found there. The Poke Lids in Miyagi are all the prehistoric Pokemon like Aerodactyl, Tyrunt, and Omanyte. Hokkaido is famous for its beautiful snowscapes, and its Poke Lids feature the snowy version of Vulpix and Ninetails. And the newest region of Japan to get a Poke Lid makeover is Tottori Prefecture, famous for its sand dunes. So what Pokemon did they get on their manhole covers? You guessed it - Sandshrew and Sandslash!
Poke Lids are a relatively new project slowly spreading across Japan, and you can keep track of them via their website here - https://local.pokemon.jp/en/manhole/ . Not only are there photos of all of the current Poke Lids on the website, but there’s also the exact location of each one. If you want to be a real-life Pokemon hunter and see them all, this is your best resource for finding them.
Just when we thought Japan had Pokemon on everything, the country found one more place to put them. Not that we are complaining, of course; we love to see otaku culture in everyday life in Japan! And with these manholes being installed across the country, it’s great to see prefectures other than Tokyo and Osaka getting to enjoy something special. In fact, there’s currently only one lid to see in Kanagawa near Tokyo (though it is the only Pikachu one so far), and none yet in Osaka! Next time you’re in Japan, be sure to look down sometimes when you’re walking. Not only will you discover lots of beautiful manhole artwork, you might be lucky enough to encounter a wild Poke Lid, too!
Have you gotten to see one of these manhole covers in person? What Pokemon would you love to see on a Poke Lid? Do you think other countries would be receptive to something like this, or is it exclusive to Japan? We would love to chat with you in the comments!