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AKITA -- The Akita Municipal Government in northern Japan will sell 10 manhole covers with festival lantern designs that were used on the city's roads.
Each manhole cover will cost 3,000 yen (roughly $21) including tax. There is certain demand for manhole covers among enthusiasts who bury them in their gardens or use them for gardening. A city representative hopes this will spark people's interest in the sewerage system.
According to the Akita Municipal Government, manhole covers will be sold for the third time, following similar efforts in 2018 and 2019. In 2018, 22 people applied for the 10 covers that were up for sale, while in 2019, 86 applied to buy the 20 on offer.
The manhole covers available this year were manufactured between 1989 and 2005, and feature designs of "kanto" long bamboo poles with lanterns attached. They were used in the Akita Kanto Festival, one of the three largest festivals in northeast Japan, which is also designated as an important intangible folk cultural property.
The cast iron manhole covers have a diameter of 60 centimeters and weigh 40 kilograms. A city representative commented, "Though they're covered in rust and have some damage, each manhole cover is unique. Some aged severely as their patterns were worn from use over a long period, while others have the weight and warmth of cast metal. We envision people to use them as gardening materials or create original colored manhole covers from them."
People who wish to buy the manhole covers can send an application form by mail, fax, email or bring it to city hall between Oct. 11 and 21. One individual can buy only one cover, and a lottery will be carried out if applicants exceed 10. The items cannot be resold. For inquiries, please call the Akita Municipal Government's sewerage maintenance section at 018-864-1455 (in Japanese).
(Japanese original by Akira Kudo, Akita Bureau)
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