Manhole covers in Japan are more than just utilitarian, sometimes they have designs that add a bit more flair to the city streets. While originally they often incorporated local sights or specialties, these days localities can encourage more tourism by installing manhole covers inspired by popular characters such as Pokemon.

Another popular series that now has some manhole cover tributes is classic mecha anime Gundam. Two designs have landed in Sagamihara City in Kanagawa prefecture.

Sagamihara is the perfect place to house these tributes to the science-fiction anime, as it is the home of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Campus. The original designs have nods to this local history of space exploration with universe themes featuring spacecrafts developed by JAXA.

One stars the RX-78-2 Gundam along with the Hayabusa craft that JAXA launched in 2003 and returned to Earth in 2010.

The second design combines the MS-06 Zaku II from the Mobile Suit Gundam series with SLIM (Smart Lander for Investigating Moon), a pinpoint lunar lander set to launch later this year.

Before being properly installed, these manhole covers will be displayed at various locations in Sagamihara from now until 8th May 2022. They are currently at the Sagamihara City Museum as part of their ‘Sewage World’ mini exhibition.

By - grape Japan editorial staff.