Exploring Taipei’s artistic manhole covers

Taipei has some very cool manhole covers on the streets and sidewalks. They’re subtle, but once you start noticing them, there are some really artistic designs. They’re not as widespread or as colourful as Japan’s famous manhole cover artwork, but if you look closely you’ll find some interesting examples.

The Taipei 101 manhole cover

The most colourful example is the Taipei 101 manhole cover, which you can find in the area nearby the Taipei 101 tower. The characters translate to ‘north rain water’. The amazing rich colours of the manhole cover are made just like the Japanese manhole covers, created by filling in the reservoirs with a weather resistant paint, which then dries in place. It’s a really cool way to liven up the area around one of Taipei’s most fun districts!

Illustration of beautiful colourful Taipei manhole cover with Taipei 101 design
The Taipei 101 in vivid colour on a Taiwanese manhole cover

The forests and lakes of Taiwan manhole cover

This manhole cover design shows the natural side of Taiwan. While Taipei is a modern, sprawling city of high rises and freeways, much of the rest of the country is made up of beautiful forests, rivers, national parks and beaches. This simplistic design pays homage to those elements.

Taiwan drain cover in Taipei with beautiful design
Taiwanese manhole cover, with fish and tree designs

The Taiwanese ornate flower manhole cover

The design of the flower on this manhole cover appears to be a cherry blossom design, very reminiscent of Tokyo’s iconic sakura pattern. The word ‘Taipei’ appears on the top band of this manhole cover. Inside the flower, there’s a scene which may be a road, a bridge, and falling rain.

Taiwanese manhole cover with lotus artwork
Taipei flower design manhole cover

The Taiwan lantern festival manhole cover

A little bit harder to find, this beautiful scene shows a crowd of people admiring lanterns strung up overhead. While at first this manhole cover looks like a chaotic mess of shapes and forms, a closer look reveals a crowd of spectators pointing, city buildings, and hanging lanterns. Taipei hosts annual lantern festivals at the start of the year, famous for their creative, colourful designs and amazing numbers of lanterns.

Drawing of a taipei manhole cover with lantern festival art
Lantern festival manhole cover in Taipei, Taiwan

The cycling kids of Taipei manhole cover

This manhole cover is a lot of fun, showing two cartoon-style kids racing their bicycles in front of a bridge background. Taipei has some great cycling routes, especially along the banks of the Tamsui river. While this is a dark, cast-iron artwork, there are lots of fun and lively elements here, like the smiling faces, waving hand, dragonflies, and little sea creatures in the river.

Taipei drain cover manhole cover artwork bicycle
Taiwanese manhole cover in Taipei, with cyclist cartoons

Removing Taipei’s manhole covers from view

Since 2009, Taipei has been in the process of converting the manhole covers on the roads into buried concrete slabs. Luckily, this mostly applies to the manhole covers on the roads themselves, not the footpaths. The metal discs can pose safety problems for the many scooters on the roads of Taipei, and many accidents are attributed to them. They are labelled with RFID tags in order to locate them underground if they ever need to be accessed.

The RFID tagging of Taiwanese manhole covers also stops theft, as stolen manhole covers have been found as far away as China.

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While not as impressive as Japan’s stunning manhole cover art, Taiwan has some really cool designs forged into the sidewalks. Next time you’re in Taipei, don’t forget to keep an eye out for some great manhole cover designs!