Ghibli director paints the town while another anime character waves at foreign visitors.

The Ghibli Museum in Tokyo’s Mitaka may have been closed for most of this year, but despite the massive drop in foreign tourists to the area due to international travel restrictions, the surrounding neighbourhood has been dressing up the streets with new manhole covers to show their love for foreigners and the lauded anime studio.

The new manhole covers feature two characters strongly associated with the city: Takajo-kun, a “PR character” created by the city specifically for foreigners, and Poki, the character for Mitaka City created by Ghibli director Hayao Miyazaki.

▼ The locations of the new manhole covers start around Mitaka Station (top) and extend past City Hall.

Takajo-kun is a character created to promote Mitaka to foreigners, and is often used by shop owners and event organisers who offer English-language support for visitors.

▼ The chirping Takajo-kun even has its own Twitter account.

Takajo-kun will now be getting its very own manhole cover at two locations in Mitaka, greeting passersby with the English message, “Have Fun in Mitaka!

▼ The above manhole is located beside one of the round pylons just outside the south exit of the station.

▼ Takajo’s other location will be on the corner of the park attached to Genki Souzou Plaza.

While Takajo-kun will be appearing on manhole covers at two locations in Mitaka, the Miyazaki-designed Poki character will be scattered around the city at ten different locations, listed below.

▼ Shimorenjaku 8-10

▼ Osawa 6-6 (near Chofu Airport)

▼ Jindaiji 1-13

▼ Shimorenjaku 3-15

▼ There will be three Poki manhole covers around Murasaki Bridge.

▼ One will be located at at Shimorenjaku 3-1…

▼ … and two at Shimorenjaku 2-29, with one on each side of the street.

Poki will be keeping Takajo-kun company at another corner of the park attached to Genki Souzou Plaza at Shinkawa 6-37.

And the final two locations will be Shimorenjaku 1-18…

…and at Shinkawa 2-1, outside the Emergency Water Supply Station.

The tree-side locations for the Poki manhole covers have been cleverly chosen, as the character, first designed in 2001 to commemorate the opening of the Ghibli Museum, is said to live in Mitaka’s forest areas. It’s also said to have a chirp that sounds like “a twig breaking“.

It’s certainly a great way to entice visitors out to lesser-known sites around Mitaka, so next time you’re in the area, you might want to go on a hunt for all of the new manhole covers, which are set to be in place by autumn 2021.

And if you’d like to seek out even more manhole covers, there are many more to choose from around Japan, featuring everything from anime greats to Pokémon. Happy hunting!

Source, images: Mitaka City  
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