Japanese manhole covers come in a variety of designs depending on locality, utility type and the manufacturer of the manhole cover. They have caught the imagination of a growing number of self-styled "drainspotters" from around the world.
A quick search on Google reveals the increasing number of tribute sites and the popularity of the cult of the Japanese manhole. There is even a Japanese Society of Manhole Covers (日本マンホール蓋学会) with their own website (in Japanese) listing many of Japan's estimated 6,000 different kinds of manhole cover.
Japan's manhole covers often include a symbol specific to an area or town as part of their design. In Kyoto, a turtle (a symbol of wisdom and longevity) is the main motif; in addition local landmarks, people, festivals or flora and fauna can all be incorporated into these underfoot works of art. Trees are the most common design, followed by landscapes and flowers.