In August 2020, Kotaku reported that there were 100 Pokémon manhole covers in Japan. At the time, that seemed like a lot. But in the last year, the number has doubled.
The Pokémon manholes are dubbed Poké-futa (ポケふた) in Japanese or, literally, “Poké-lid.” The first one featured Eevee and was installed in Kagoshima in December 2018.
Now, there are 201 Poké-futa in 19 prefectures across Japan. Below is an image of all the Pocket Monster manholes to date:
In Japan, it seems like every city and town has its own novelty manhole. One of the enjoyable parts of walking around places in Japan is checking out the different designs.
Manholes didn’t always used to be so interesting in Japan. According to Web Japan, the first “designer manhole’’ appeared in Naha, Okinawa in 1977 and featured abstract fish designs. The purpose was to improve the image of the city’s sewer system. Other locations around Japan followed suit, and by 1981, colourful manhole covers were making their mark on Japanese streets. Now, there are an array of manholes featuring popular characters, local sights, sports teams, and more.
In Japan, manhole covers are coloured by hand, with craftspeople squirting out colourful resin from what look like ketchup bottles. Nippon.com reports that it takes skilled workers about one hour to evenly apply colour to a single lid, which is then heated to harden the resin.
But 100 in a year, that’s a lot! The Poké-futa double as Pokéstops, and they are also being used to drum up tourism for local areas, including places that have been hit with natural disasters and might need extra support.
The latest ones are in Awaji Island near the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge (pictured, top), with Lugia among the featured monsters. Not only is it home to a great beach and a wonderful sake brewery, Awaji Island has an important place in the country’s Shinto history and is definitely worth a visit! Plus, driving across the bridge at sunset is truly spectacular.
If you are visiting Japan, when visiting Japan is allowed again, and wondering where to see the most Poké-futa, Miyagi has the most at 35 lids, followed by Miyazaki and Hokkaido, both of which have 26. Tokyo has 12, so there’s ample opportunity to drain spot there, too!
For more on Poké-futa, check out the official site.