What, you were expecting more Pokémon?

In general, Japan puts a lot of effort in manhole cover design, and often with great results. But more recently there’s been a trend of character-based manhole lids such as ones featuring both Pokémon and Pocket Monsters, as well as the occasional ones without Pokémon.

▼ They do really tie a parking lot together

Image: © SoraNews24

But one manga and anime franchise that seemed well-suited yet woefully underrepresented in the heavy-metal medium of manholes is Gundam. That is a problem well on its way to getting rectified, however, thanks to the Gundam Manhole Project which launched last year.

Now, a pair of mobile suits have been deployed to Sagamihara City, and are scheduled to be installed around the middle of June in front of the north exit of Fuchinobe Station and at the main gate of the JAXA Sagamihara Campus.

The presence of this branch of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency in Sagamihara is exactly why this city was chosen as the latest location for the Gundam Manhole Project. The Sagamihara Campus is the birthplace of the Hayabusa space probe, which you might remember as that thing that flew into space, landed on an asteroid going 90,000 kilometers per hour, shot it a few times, and then collected the debris that floated up and brought it back to Earth.

If that isn’t some badass Gundam-style space exploration, then I don’t know what is. So, it’s only fitting that Hayabusa’s home get the Gundam manhole treatment. The first of two designs features the classic RX-78-2 flying through space alongside the legendary spacecraft, with “Hayabusa no Furusato” (Hayabusa’s Hometown) written along the bottom.

As cool as the original Hayabusa was, its mission ended over a decade ago. So, with more of a view towards the future, the second lid features a MS-06F Zaku II along with the Smart Lander for Investigating Moon or “SLIM” for short. Scheduled to head to the lunar surface later this year, SLIM is designed to make extremely precise landings compared to previous landers, which would make it very useful for the Principality of Zeon to travel to and from Side 3.

Before these lids are sent to their permanent resting places, they will go on a brief museum tour over the next couple of months. First, both lids will be put on display at the Sagamihara City Musuem from 13 April to 8 May as a part of their Mini Sewerage World exhibit, which aims to raise awareness of the fact that the path to the world above is built on the foundations of the sewage treatment world underneath us.

Then, they’ll move on to the lobby of the Midori Ward office from 10 to 20 May, and finally the entrance to the Minami Ward office in Sagamihara City from 24 May to 3 June.

Once installed in their locations city also has a fun way to get from one lid to the other. Twelve mural-like markings will be printed right on the surface of the streets, featuring various celestial bodies. Starting at Fuchinobe Station those who follow the Sun, Moon, and each planet of the solar system in order, will arrive at the JAXA Sagamihara Campus. 

▼ There are also markings for the Itokawa asteroid, as well as the Ryugu asteroid which was shot up by the Hayabusa2 more recently, but it’s unclear how they’ll work into the directions.

It’s both fun and functional, because as we found, getting from one novelty manhole lid to another can be a challenging experience in itself.

Source: PR Times
Images: PR Times (Unless otherwise noted)
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