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New mashup Web site reveals the hole story behind Japan’s manhole covers / Ittemia(イッテミア)前線

While not the oddest fetish in Japan by a long way, there are some who travel the length of Japan enticed by the prospect of a compellingly designed manhole. But while even the most ardent manhole cover buffs come up against the problem of too many manholes, not enough time, they now have a powerful ally: a new community Web site called Ittemia Zensen, started in August this year and featuring pictures of manhole covers from various regions of Japan and details on their locations.

Contributors can add photos of manhole covers directly from their mobile phones, along with global positioning system (GPS) data to mark its location on the map. While the site features pictures primarily of manhole covers from the Kanto region, those from other regions are also available, and many manhole covers feature locals sights and scenes, such as lanterns from the Kanto Festival in Akita; “gassho-zukuri” (thatched gable roof) farmhouses of Shirakawa in Gifu Prefecture, and scenes from the port city of Kobe.