19.12.11

Japan at my feet

Last Thursday I returned from a fortnight in the land of the rising sun, Japan that is. The trip was brought about by a Jetstar sale - the airfare was ridiculously cheap (though you pay in other ways, a story for another time) and I thought to myself "Why not?" and quickly checked that my boss was happy for me to take the leave. I had no particular passion for the country, not more than anywhere else in the world (I was desperate to travel everywhere equally, I don't discriminate!) but as soon as I started researching my trip, I knew I was in for a treat. 
Japan has such an incredibly rich culture which when combined with the quirky and cute, and futuristic technology makes for such a unique experience, there is always something special to see regardless of where you look.
One thing I remember reading about when I was doing my research was the manhole covers in Japan - that is, the patterns on them. Given I possess the memory of a goldfish, I promptly forgot that gem of information until I was standing at an intersection in Minami-senju in Tokyo, waiting for the little green man of the traffic lights to give me permission to cross the road. I looked down, and there was this beauty! 


The next few covers I saw were in the lovely city of Osaka, land of the friendly. Not only were the people there beautiful, but so were the manhole covers! Such pretty designs, which is quite interesting because quite a lot of the architecture in Osaka is quite industrial and sterile, I think it's a bit 70's (though I know nothing of architecture), so it's interesting that the manhole designs are so pretty and intricate. I think this one was near (within a few kilometres anyway) to the Shinsaibashi area.


I think this was my second favourite one of all of them, and looked especially pretty in the evening light scattered with the ginkgo leaves. It was also in Osaka, but I can't exactly remember where. If I correctly remember the areas I was walking around in the evening, I'm guessing it was in a similar area to the one above.


The next stop on my whistlestop trip of Japan was Fukuoka, on the southern island of Kyushu. I made the trek all the way down here just for the food. I had read about the yatai, which are street food vendors, and having developed a taste for street food in Vietnam, I figured I couldn't pass this one up! The story of Fukuoka is one for another day, however this is my favourite manhole cover from that lovely town. Quite abstract and quirky, very different from the traditional themes of the others I had seen thus far.




Heading back north, I stopped in at Kyoto, however there were no exciting manhole covers there. The patterns were pretty boring compared to those posted above so I didn't take photos of those. I kind of wish I had though, I do like complete sets...


Back in Tokyo, I found a manhole cover that I hadn't seen previously, my favourite design of all of those that I saw. This one is in Ueno Park, I cannot believe I missed it as I visited Ueno Park at the start of my trip too! I may have just been looking closer this time, as I was on a photography course so I was looking around the park on the hunt for some exciting snaps. 




I took a day trip to the pretty town of Kamakura, an hour's train ride out of Tokyo and packed full of history and temples. I ate some yummy grapefruit sorbet when I was there, and also saw some squirrels while hiking between temples! Back on the manholes though, I thought this one, while relatively plain, had some pretty detail in the middle.




And the last photo is one of my attempts at being arty. The yellow ginkgo leaf, one of the many covering the trees but one of the few decorating the ground (everything is swept clean in Japan, always) looked so pretty laying there on its lonesome.




A tour of Japan while looking at one's feet may not be everyone's cup of tea but I just fell in love with the attention to detail (I am an accountant after all). I think it's such a cool idea, and a lovely way to add some beauty to a city of concrete and steel. I was sad to hear they are no longer making the pretty designs though, and replacing the nice ones with the boring plain designs. I hope that doesn't happen too quickly, there are so many designs I haven't had a chance to see yet!



1 comment:

  1. How picturesque! It's little things like that here and there that make up the travel experience.

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