In most countries, manholes are an ugly (yet necessary) public convenience, but in Japan, they’re colorful works of art. There, the utilitarian metal covers are adorned with unique designs and feature local attractions or symbols, like cherry blossoms, Mount Fuji, or the Yokohama Bay Bridge.

According to The Japan Times, municipalities allegedly started decorating manhole covers in the 1980s, after officials told them that the eye-catching utility vault lids could help enhance the public image of Japan’s sewerage system. Today, manhole cover manufacturers create the designs, and submit them to local administrators. In turn, they select a winning design, and commission manholes in its likeness.

See a sampling of Japan’s vibrant manholes in the video below, hosted by ONLY in Japan‘s John Daub.

[h/t The Kid Should See This]