For those not in the know, manhole cards are a Japanese tourism tool used to bring collectors to particular geographic areas. If you enjoy hidden gems and visiting places you never thought you would…this could be the hobby you’ve been waiting for. I’ve found it extremely fulfilling, myself! On a recent work trip to Fukuoka, I checked ahead and found that there were two Fukuoka manhole cards available from the city centre. The first card I went for was for the city’s main design, first installed in 1990.
Fukuoka’s Manhole Design
According to the government website, the city wanted a new design in 1990 to commemorate a monumentous event: the sewerage system exceeding 1 million people served.
This geometric design, said to represent birds, yachts and cityscapes, won out over 735 entries and soon became the face of the drains of Fukuoka. Almost 150,000 have been installed as of late 2018.
To get the card, I made my way to the “Pon Plaza” building near Canal City Shopping Center. I took the lift up to level 2, where I found myself in “Dr. Drain’s Interesting Laboratory.” One side of the room was set up as a mini educational display, while the other side was all desks and, I assume, government workers.
I politely asked for a manhole card, and was handed one—after I sanitised my hands for everyone’s safety, of course. Behold the newest addition to my collection.
As these manhole designs were everywhere, I didn’t bother trying to track down the coordinates on the card. Instead, I just took a photo when I had some time; this turned out to be while waiting for a ferry on Nokonoshima Island.
Also, during my adventures in Fukuoka, I spent a little time in Shingu, the access point for the ferry to Ainoshima Cat Island (read about it here) and snapped a few pictures of their drain covers for the hell of it:
As I’ve been sharing these on social media, it’s interesting to see which designs people gravitate towards. One friend, let’s call her Blillary, was so excited to see this one. She fell in love with the Fukuoka manhole on her first visit there, calling it ‘Milano’ every time she sees it. I don’t exactly know what this means, but trust that she knows when it comes to these matters!
Manhole Card Address: Pon Plaza, level 2: Dr. Drain’s Interesting Laboratory.
Nearest Stations: Gion or Nakasukawabata
Ask: “Manhouru kado ga arimasuka?” (マンホールカードがありますか？)
Manhole Locations: Everywhere around the city!
More info: here, on the government website.
*note: this information may change; best to check here.