Japanese Manhole Covers in the form of Gundam will be installed across the country by the Bandai Namco Group. On August 1, the first installation will take place in director Yoshiyuki Tomino’s hometown of Odawara City in Kanagawa Prefecture. The Gundam will be displayed at Odawara Castle, while Char’s Z’Gok will be displayed at the Odawara fishing harbor.
At a ceremony on Saturday, the two manholes were solemnly presented to the city. They will be on exhibit until July 31 at the Odawara Castle Keep before being installed on August 1. Stairway art with a Gundam and Odawara Castle motif will be presented later as part of an endeavor to encourage tourists to the castle.
Japanese Manhole Covers Are All the Rage
The Gundam Manhole Project will collaborate with local governments across Japan in order to revitalize the countryside and demonstrate the intergenerational bonds that exist among Gundam fans. Applications and queries for future installations are presently being accepted aside from Japanese manhole covers.
We’ve also seen Gundam manholes previously, since, well, we’ve seen a lot of them! The first units were unveiled at Tokyo’s Inagi City in 2019, with five being placed. (Note that Pokémon manholes are referred to as Poké Futa or Poké Lid in Japanese, but Gundam manholes are simply referred to as Gundam Manhooru.)
It all started with Japanese Manhole covers in the 1980s, when Japan established a new underground sewer system throughout the country. Each local municipality elected to paint the access points, also known as manholes, in order to generate some publicity for the initiative. They continued to adorn and replace the manhole covers after that, resulting in what we see today. They are a true testament to Japan’s uniqueness and regional pride.
People go from across Japan to observe all the varied designs in a trend known as ‘drainspotting.’ Fans will strive to view and visit as many manholes cover designs as possible during this frenzy. Naturally, there are several souvenirs, mementos, t-shirts, and collectibles available.