Flowers and manhole covers

I adore Japanese manhole covers. They are just so beautiful! Here’s the one for Toyota City:

toyota city manhole cover
Toyota City manhole cover

It features the symbol of Aichi prefecture in the middle, surrounded by sun flowers. Toyota City has adopted the sunflower as its symbol flower. Likewise, the manhole cover for Takayama features rhododendron flowers, which are symbolic for the city of Takayama.

takayama manhole cover
Takayama manhole cover with rhododendron flowers

In fact, I think almost every Japanese city has a symbol flower and a symbol tree. Additionally, each province has a symbol flower and even each month of the year has its own typical flower (see hanafuda card game).

Hanafuda card set by Kelsey Cretcher

The importance that the Japanese attach to flowers is further illustrated by the following anecdotes: During my stay in Japan, I have often been asked what the symbol flower of Belgium is. Japanese people seemed quite surprised when I said there is none (as far as I know). I have also heard that during trips abroad, Japanese people will often ask their tour guide about a particular flower. Usually the tour guide doesn’t know anything about flowers and the response will be ‘that’s just a flower’, causing great disappointment to the Japanese tourists.

At first I was quite surprised by the Japanese fascination with flowers. But if you think about it, it shouldn’t be surprising at all, considering that the Japanese elevated flower arrangement to a true art form (ikebana 生け花) and have developed an entire symbolic flower language in which words and codes are assigned to flowers (hanakotoba 花言葉). I guess I can only conclude that the Japanese sure do love their flowers!

Ikebana – image from Wikipedia

9 thoughts on “Flowers and manhole covers

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  1. I love all the symbols they made for each city. So cool-looking.

    I also have been surprised how often flora, and nature in general, is brought up in conversation. It’s nice. I wish we did that more at home.

  2. Hello! I agree about the manhole covers in Japan. It was my best friend and travel buddy who first noticed how intricate their designs were. I think he took pictures of the ones in Tokyo and Kyoto. It’s impressive because manhole covers in other places aren’t really given much thought on (maybe) XD

    1. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I saw on your blog that you really like Japan as well ^_^ Good luck with making more Japanese friends and studying Japanese!

      1. your so welcome:)
        your right i really love living here and most of all i really love japan:)
        thank you very much for reading my articles i hope you keep on following me and my blogs in future:)

  3. When I was in Japan I took photos of the manhole covers, too! They really are lovely works of art lying there under your feet, and completely different in every area you visit.

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