Monday, September 23, 2013

An appreciation of beauty is baked into the culture in Japan, whether it's natural beauty or man-made.  The manhole cover at right is a great example – the utilitarian, purely functional manhole covers in our U.S. cities look downright Stalinist by comparison.  Here's an entire collection of Japanese manhole cover photos.

Way back in the '70s, I once took two weeks leave while my U.S. Navy ship was in port at Yokosuska, Japan.  I took off for a two week long trip through the Japanese countryside on my bicycle.  That trip was memorable for several reasons, but one of them was my discovery of the pervasive Japanese appreciation for beauty.  I don't recall the manhole covers – but then, I wasn't in any city for very long.  The one thing that sticks out in my mind is are the beautiful little gardens, all meticulously tended, that could be found under just about every bridge abutment along the country roads.  These were created and maintained by local folks, just for the beauty and for the appreciation of travelers...

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