Japanese Manhole Cover Rubbings

One of the great delights of Japan travel
is to literally stumble upon
an ingenious work of art under your feet.

Many towns in Japan
have designed
their own distinctive manhole covers.
These capture the town’s identity
in bold graphic form.

Over years I have made rubbings of these manhole covers.

When you are down on your knees
on the street or sidewalk in Japan,
people tend to notice.

In Kanazawa a local newspaper reporter
interviewed me.

Sometimes you risk life and limb
if your friends don’t let you know
when a car is coming.

In recent years, these expressions of civic pride
have gathered a cult following.

To read more about this phenomenal phenomenon check out

Gail Rieke is an internationally recognized collage/ assemblage/ installation artist and teacher who lives and works in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She also publishes a monthly blog, ridetheflyingcarpet.blogspot.com. Gail has traveled to Japan many time over the years, and has co-led numerous tours with Steve Beimel.


  1. How beautiful and unexpected!

  2. Karen Lehrer says:

    I can’t seem to be able to subscribe.

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