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City to install Japan's first Gundam-themed manhole covers

This photo provided by the Odawara Municipal Government shows manhole covers with the motif of the Gundam mobile suit, left, and the Char's Z'Gok mobile suit.

ODAWARA, Kanagawa -- Two manhole covers with designs from popular anime series "Mobile Suit Gundam" will be installed in this east Japan city on Aug. 1, with cards featuring the manhole covers set for distribution on Aug. 27.

    The covers were made by Gundam rights holder the Bandai Namco Group as part of the "Gundam Manhole Project." Their installation in Odawara will apparently make them the first based on the series to appear in the country.

    On July 17, the Odawara Municipal Government made Odawara-born Yoshiyuki Tomino, creator of the Gundam series, the city's "hometown ambassador." His appointment is the start of a city project to promote tourism with Gundam, and the manhole covers are a part of that. Bandai Namco Group donated them to the city.

    This photo provided by the Odawara Municipal Government shows the front side, left, and back side of the Gundam manhole cover card.

    The manhole covers feature the anime's popular mobile suits: "Gundam" and "Char's Z'Gok." They are respectively backdropped by the city's popular tourist spot Odawara Castle, and the sea along with the famed "Odawara chochin" lantern. The covers will be installed at Daiyagai shopping street in front of Odawara Station, and at a location near the Odawara chochin lighthouse in Odawara Fishing Port.

    To promote the covers, the municipal government has made 10,000 cards with descriptions of the items. Their distribution will start at the Odawara Visitor Center on Aug. 27.

    The municipal government began the specially designed manhole cover project in April 2020, and has so far installed covers with local attraction-themed designs including of an old train station and a tram at seven locations around Odawara Station.

    A city hall representative said, "We hope Gundam and manhole cover fans will take interest and walk around the city."

    (Japanese original by Nao Ikeda, Yokohama Bureau)

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