OSAKA – The city of Ikeda in Osaka Prefecture, known as the birthplace of instant noodles, has started using manhole covers featuring Hiyoko-chan, the mascot of Chicken Ramen brand instant noodles, in front of the city’s popular cup noodle museum.
The Ikeda Municipal Government has created four kinds of 60-centimeter manhole lids representing the four seasons — cherry blossoms for spring, fireworks for summer, autumn leaves for the fall and snow for winter — with Hiyoko-chan featured in the center.
Hiyoko-chan, a popular character used to promote the mainstay noodle brand made by Nissin Foods Holdings Co., is also a “tourism ambassador” for the city.
The manhole covers were produced to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the city’s incorporation as a municipality and to promote the ninth annual Manhole Summit, set to be held this year in Ikeda, on Oct. 19.
Manhole cover exhibitions have been gaining popularity recently, attracting street art enthusiasts referred to as “manholers.”
Nissin Foods founder Momofuku Ando invented Chicken Ramen, the world’s first instant noodle product, in the city in 1958, in a shed he had built in his backyard.
The Cupnoodles Museum Osaka Ikeda attracts around 910,000 visitors annually from across Japan and overseas.