Japanese City Installs Country’s First LED-Powered Manhole Covers

Authorities in Tokorozawa, a Japanese city located north of Tokyo, recently unveiled a total of 27 high-tech manhole covers featuring LED displays inspired by popular anime.

In an ingenious attempt to improve the image of the local sewer system and also hopefully prevent nighttime crime on the main boulevard of Tokorozawa, the city’s Waterworks and Sewerage department recently installed a total of 27 new manhole covers illuminated by solar-powered LED lights and featuring anime-inspired designs. The new manholes were laid on August 1, 2020, and are the first manholes in Japan to feature LED lighting.

Photo: Tokyo-NP

Artistic manhole covers were already an important part of Japanese culture. This unique art form can be traced back to the 1980s, when Japanese cities started making custom covers with designs inspired by the region’s cultural identity (mythology, history, culture, etc.). Over the years, manhole covered art evolved to incorporate modern cultural elements like anime characters and local mascots. Now, Tokorozawa has come up with a way to incorporate techonology in manhole covers as well.

Every LED manhole cover is located next to its own solar panel, and the two are connected underground. The LED displays reportedly turn on automatically at 5 pm and remain lit until 2 in the morning.


The 27 high-tech manhole covers feature designs inspired by some of the world’s most popular anime series, including Neon Genesis Evangelion, Gundam and Kino’s Journey.

Meanwhile, manholes in my country are lucky to have any covers at all…