Anime mecha poses with towns most delicious claim to fame.

March 31 was a bittersweet day for anime mecha fans, as it marked the final day of Gundam Factory Yokohama, the facility that was home to the moving life-size statue of the titular star of Mobile Suit Gundam. With Gundam being such a powerful presence in Japanese pop culture though, it was only a matter of time until the next cool art installation featuring the heroic mobile suit, and the next recipient will be the town of Minamiuonuma in Niigata Prefecture.

Fans visiting Minamiuonuma won’t have to crane their necks back to see the town’s Gundam, though, Instead, they’ll need to look down, since Minamiuonuma is the latest town to receive Gundam manhole covers.

Two different designs are being installed, one featuring the original RX-78-2 Gundam and the other the YMS-15 Gyan, an armored knight-like mobile suit deployed by the antagonist Zeon forces.

Since the aim with anime-themed manhole covers is to drum up interest in tourism to the towns in which they’re installed, the new Gundam manhole covers feature nods to Minamiuonuma’s agricultural and alpine allure. Niigata is famous for the high quality of its rice, and among Niigata rice the Koshihikari variant is considered the most delicious. So instead of the starry expanse of outer space, the RX-78-2 is depicted standing by stalks of Koshihikari in a Minamiuonuma rice field.

Part of what makes Minamiuonuma’s rice so good is the deliciously pure water used to grow it, which flows to the town as ice melts from the nearby mountains, including the sacred Mt. Hakkai, which appears on the Gyan manhole cover.

The manhole covers had been on display at Minamiuonuma city hall (pictured above), but as of May 3 they’ve been moved to the visitor information center located on the first floor neat the East Exit of Muikamachi Station in Minamiuonuma. They’ll be viewable there until 5-31, after which the pair of manhole covers will be installed at as-yet-unannounced location within Minamiuonuma.

Sourece: PR Times via Comic Natalie via Otakomu
Top image: Gundam Manhole Project official website
Images: PR Times