Fun with public amenities

February 18, 2011  •  Leave a Comment

Now for something totally different.   Some time ago, a friend shared some of his snaps of a series of manhole covers/utility vault lids that he saw while traveling.   They were totally fun, and made me take note of something I often completely ignore.

As I’ve been poking around Japan, I’ve been paying more some attention to various features in the public space, that I thought would be fun to share.  (This post’s for you, Joe.)

 

This utility vault cover was in color. How cool is that? The design is featuring one of the elements in Kanazawa's historic garden, considered one of the top three gardens in the country. Understandably something to be proud of, so no surprise it "made the cover" so to speak...

More after the jump…

Even the small hot spring village of Shibu Onsen, about an hour outside of Nagano, gets in on enshrining their civic pride in public spaces.  Shibu Onsen has the benefit of being downstream from many natural hot springs that pour out of the mountains (and also serve as home to Snow Monkeys).   They also have amazingly narrow, cute streets.

 

A student heading home from school. Note the snow on the roofs, but none on the street.

I was told that the several of the local streets have hot spring water pipes running under them, so folks don’t have to shovel or plow.  The radiant heat keeps them snow free all winter.  There also seemed to be public spigots around town, as I saw folks collecting the hot water from constantly flowing, steaming spigots with buckets and pouring it over icy spots to melt them.  In any case, here’s their local entry in the sewer lid department…

 

I've no idea what this says, but it looks like a happy camper plunged in a hot spring, eh? Appropriate for a village that features a set of 9 public hot springs (onsens), each reportedly addressing different ailments.

Now up to Kushiro, home of the Red-Crowned Cranes (featured in an earlier post) …

This lid was from Kushiro, gateway to the national wetlands that are home to the Red-Crowned Cranes.

It’s not just sewer lids that caught my eye.  Kushiro in particular had a number of other amenities that I thought were of note…

 

I gather this is some type of kingfisher, but I'm not sure why this "street ornament" existed, beyond offering people something pretty on the ground to look at. I saw many of these ornaments at various intersections in Kushiro. Being a bird nerd, I loved them.

Another Kushiro "street ornament". I've no idea what it says, but it looks like wildflowers to me. As most sidewalks were covered in snow/ice when I was there, having these few ornaments melted out and visible was quite a treat.

One more for the bird fans in the crowd, also from Kushiro…

 

This lovely stained glass image (again, cranes = Kushiro) was over one of the downtown bus stops.

Lastly, I’m pulling this one out of the archives, from when I was in Japan some  years ago – because it struck me even then as a totally creative way to hid above ground utility vaults.

 

I forget where this is exactly (Takayama?) but how cool is that? You see the samurai sculpture, not the utility vault under it. Genius.

Food for thought, particularly if any of you out there design public utility type things…

 


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