Manhole covers don’t have to be ugly sewer lids. In Japan, they can be astoundingly intricate, colorful, museum-worthy feats of urban design.

Photographer S. Morita (Flickr name MRSY) has snapped over a thousand manhole covers around Japan over the years. In a country renowned for its attention to detail and rich artistic heritage, it’s pretty inspiring to take a bland city staple, that people literally walk all over, and morph it into eye candy.

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Head over to Morita’s Flickr page for hundreds of more photos of these pavement-topping beauties. JapanVisitor.com has photos on their own site, too, and there’s even photographer Remo Camerota’s coffee table book.

Sometimes the coolest stuff is just under our noses...and our feet.


Contact the author at bryan@gizmodo.com.

All images courtesy S. Morita, and used with permission.