When walking on the street, there are somethings we usually don’t pay attention to, such as materials that make sidewalks and streets, the pipe systems below the pavement, or the manhole covers. However, I guess probably no one will ignore these artistic and colorful manholes in Japan.

Video creators Process X visited the Hinode factory to document the manufacture of the ubiquitous lids from start to finish. Workers first melt metal and stamp the molten material into a form that produces a distinctive raised outline. The covers are then cooled and transported to a station where others hand-paint the details, heat the pigments to create a durable finish, and ready them for installation.

It might sound over complicated to made something as humble as manhole covers. But that is actually common in Japan. Japan’s aesthetic solution to an otherwise banal infrastructural object is thought to have originated back in the mid-1980s when municipalities were invited to design their own manhole covers. Following a handful of local contests and documentation by photographers and publications, the phenomenon continues to add vivid, unexpected designs to everyday surfaces. Nowdays, exploring colorful manhole covers has become a popular trend among tourists.

All images © Process X

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