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Japanese manhole covers are true works of art. There are also designs that grace the streets of every prefecture and are inspired by the pop culture they export, such as the Pokemon manhole covers. Their beauty is admired by locals and tourists alike and has even hosted a manhole cover festival in Japan. The creation process is as exciting as the product itself. Dedicated to candid footage of Japanese production, the Process X YouTube channel has released a short documentary about how these gorgeous manhole covers are created.

The mini-document walks you through the entire manufacturing process of Hinode Water Equipment Co.  It all starts with the machine picking up and transporting non-standard pieces of scrap metal to the smelter and ends with testing on real streets on which the car drives. However, there are some interesting steps before testing.

Perhaps the most captivating part of a documentary is when it adds colour to a complex design. Each colour of paint is placed in a bottle and carefully placed by hand, just like a real colouring book. Without it, the motif would be unremarkable when viewed up close, but it is the colour that elevates this from ubiquitous urban infrastructure to a fun sight to stumble upon on the street. Because weather resistance is required, the pigment is heated for added durability.

On top of its artistic charm, the attention to detail put into every single metal cover reminds us that safety and practicality are equally important. This is a common thread in the equally curiosity-spiking manufacturing documentaries Process X produces, from pencils to samurai swords.

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