Visiting Japan ?These Artistic Manhole Covers in Japan Are a Thing of Beauty

When visiting Japan, you may be captivated by the cherry blossom trees, shrine gates, and elegant castles all around you, but look down and you’ll find a unique display of Japanese aesthetics right beneath your feet.

Manhole covers might seem like a mundane everyday object, and in most countries they indeed are — a utilitarian metal lid, trod on by thousands of people each day. But in Japan, manhole covers are an expression of community identity and a unique application of public art meets public utility.


Manhole cover depicting UNESCO World Heritage Shirakawa-go Village
© Tamago Moffle / Flickr

Manhole cover depicting UNESCO World Heritage Shirakawa-go Village

Modern water and sewage systems weren’t popular when they first arrived in Japan, as the cost of installing the below-ground systems were seen as prohibitively expensive by local communities outside of big cities. However, a government plan that allowed communities to create their very own cover designs won over taxpayers and launched a number of local variations throughout the country. Despite the higher cost of these more elaborate, sometimes full-color, manhole covers the effort was a huge success.

Today, these artistic Japanese manhole covers have spawned a worldwide network of manhole cover photographers, a line of collectable cards, and even a book dedicated to their history called Drainspotting.

Here are eight gorgeous manhole covers demonstrating the variety of styles and elements found across Japan.

Floral themes

Floral designs are a common motif for Japanese manhole covers. This one from Chikushino City in Fukuoka prefecture features a combination of Japanese camellia, the official ‘city tree’, and scarlet sage, the ‘city flower’.

Manhole cover spotted in Chikushino, Fukuoka

Manhole cover spotted in Chikushino, Fukuoka

Local landmarks

Local landmarks are frequently incorporated into manhole cover designs. This one from Osaka, Japan, depicts a highly stylized image of Osaka Castle.

Manhole cover from Kanko, Osaka
© Daiju Azuma / Flickr

Manhole cover from Kanko, Osaka

Local history

Some manhole covers incorporate elements related to the history of the local area, such as this one from Mie prefecture depicting the pilgrimage to Ise Shrine, a tradition that goes back hundreds of years.

Manhole cover spotted in Ise City, Mie prefecture
© Jim O’Neil / Flickr

Manhole cover spotted in Ise City, Mie prefecture

This manhole cover from Nagano, Japan, commemorates the XVIII Olympic Winter Games, held there in 1998.

Manhole cover spotted in Nagano City
© bryansjs / Flickr

Manhole cover spotted in Nagano City

Local delicacies

Famous local food and goods may also be depicted on manhole covers, like this colorful example from Hakodate, Hokkaido. The port city is famous for its seafood, especially squid, and even has a ‘squid dance’ performed at local festivals.

Manhole cover spotted in Hakodate, Hokkaido
© Photocapy / Flickr

Manhole cover spotted in Hakodate, Hokkaido

This manhole cover from Shimonoseki City, the ‘Pufferfish Capital of the World’, depicts the delicious but deadly local delicacy.

Manhole cover spotted in Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi prefecture
© Daiju Azuma / Flickr

Manhole cover spotted in Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi prefecture

Local icons

The iconic local deer of Nara are portrayed rather elegantly on this manhole cover, but they are known to be a bit greedy and impatient and sometimes headbutt visitors or nibble the buttons off of people’s clothing.

Manhole cover spotted in Nara, Japan
© coniferconifer / Flickr

Manhole cover spotted in Nara, Japan

Local pride

Manhole covers are a unique way to show off local pride in Japan. This manhole cover from Hiroshima prefecture features the popular baseball team Hiroshima Carp set against a backdrop of maple leaves, another local symbol.

Manhole cover featuring the local baseball team Hiroshima Carp
© Addy Cameron-Huff / Flickr

Manhole cover featuring the local baseball team Hiroshima Carp

(What a fantastic tourist attraction for your community.  What do you think ?)


12 Bugs You Should Never Kill

Roll out the welcome mat for these beneficial insects that will get on your gardens good side.  Story by Daniel Mintz for Bob Villa

Slide 1 of 12: Praying mantises are like bug-eating bouncers for the garden. They devour dozens of difficult plant-eating pests. DIY picklers may run across them most often, because they have a particular penchant for the scent of dill. So plant some dill yourself to turn your garden into a hot property for praying mantises. 

(This is not an alien creature)





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Want to Live Longer? Science Says to Do These 5 Things

(No-brainers really, nothing new under the sun, just simple things that we could do if we were so inclined.)

© Kraig Scarbinsky/Getty Images

When it comes to staying healthy, most people have the same motivation: living as long and fulfilling a life as possible. And while science has yet to find a true fountain of youth, researchers have identified certain behaviors that can increase longevity.

One study, published in the journal Circulation last year, even argued that adhering to just five healthy habits could extend your lifespan by roughly a decade. Here’s what they are, and what research to date says about living your longest life.

Eating a healthy diet

Diet is strongly linked to longevity. Research has long suggested that following a Mediterranean diet — which includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and healthy fats, and not much sugar, red meat or processed food — brings a host of health benefits, including a longer life.

Other studies have also found longevity benefits associated with some of the specific foods and nutrients included in a Mediterranean diet, such as whole grains, fiber, fish, plant-based proteins and healthy fats. On the other hand, foods including processed snacks and meats, fried foods and sugar-sweetened beverages have been linked to higher risks of chronic disease and death.

Even if your diet isn’t perfect, research suggests that making smart changes can add up to sizable benefits. One paper published in 2017 concluded that people who ate 20% more healthy foods than they had at the beginning of the study, over the course of 12 years, decreased their risk of early death by up to 17%.

Exercising regularly

Working out regularly is a boon for both your physical and mental health, boosting everything from cardiovascular fitness to mood and energy — so it’s no surprise that it can also extend your life. Federal physical activity guidelines recommend aiming for at least 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity each week, plus twice-weekly muscle-strengthening sessions, to reap health and longevity benefits.

But you don’t have to go overboard. Even short bouts of light physical activity, such as walking and cleaning, increased the lifespans of older men and women in studies from 2018 and 2017, respectively. And a study published in January found that simply moving instead of sitting for 30 minutes each day could reduce early death risk by 17%.

If you do opt for a more vigorous workout, some research suggests that team sports like tennis and soccer are best for longevity, because they encourage social interaction as well as exercise.

And if you don’t exercise now, you can still start. A recent study found longevity benefits associated with both life-long and later-in-life exercise.

Maintaining a healthy body weight

Diet and exercise habits help people maintain a healthy body weight, which the Circulation study defined as a body mass index between 18.5 and 24.9. Obesity is associated with chronic conditions including Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer, all of which can shorten your life. A 2018 study found that widespread obesity shaved a year off the U.S. life expectancy and is responsible for up to 186,000 deaths per year.

Drinking only in moderation

For years, moderate drinking was touted as a harmless — and maybe even healthy — habit. But recently, scientific opinion has begun to shift toward a more cautious stance on alcohol.

Last year, a large meta-analysis of prior alcohol studies concluded that there is no safe amount of drinking, because the net risks to a population — addiction, cancer, traffic accidents and so on — outweigh any potential benefits, such as improved cardiovascular and cognitive health. And while each person’s risk-benefit analysis depends on his or her family and medical history, research is increasingly supporting the idea that people should limit their alcohol consumption to avoid health problems and increase longevity.

Moderate drinking, according to federal dietary guidelines, means that women should have no more than a drink per day, and men should have no more than two per day.

Not smoking

In addition to causing lung cancer, cigarette-smoking is associated with serious health problems including heart attack, stroke and mouth and throat cancers, making it a significant threat to longevity. The best way to reduce your risk, of course, is never to smoke at all — but if you do, experts advise quitting as soon as possible to minimize threats to your health.

(So there you have it.  I would bet we would all be good with 4 of 5, the only killer being exercising regularly, which may influence our healthy body weight, from eating a healthy diet. Ugh, so get off the couch Dennis and walk a few miles.  Good advice from me to me , and to you).

Agent Smith’ Android Malware Infected 25M Devices

A new strain of Android malware has infected 25 million devices and modified legitimate apps with a malicious ads module, according to a report by the security company Check Point.

The malware was disguised as Google-related updaters and “vending modules,” which hid its own app icons and automatically replaced already-installed legitimate apps with its own version without the user knowing. This lead the researchers to name the malware “Agent Smith” because its behavior is similar to the character in the film The Matrix of the same name.

The malware first appeared in popular third-party app store 9Apps and targeted mostly Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi users. However, of the 25 million affected devices, 303,000 infections were detected in the US, and 137,000 in the UK.

Apps that were modified include WhatsApp, Opera Mini, Flipkart, as well as software from Lenovo and Swiftkey. The malware detected which apps were installed, patched them with a malicious ads modules, and then re-installed them on the device. For the user, it simply looks like the app is being updated as expected. Once the update is complete, the owner of the malware can then profit from the newly included ads.

The security firm says they submitted data to Google and law enforcement agencies, and as of publishing no malicious apps remain on the Play Store. Nevertheless, the malware managed to survive for as long as it did because, despite the original vulnerability Agent Smith was based on being patched in Android years ago, developers did not sufficiently update their applications.

Happy Bastille Day

Bastille Day in France showcases European military cooperation

Provided by Fox News Network LLC

The flags of 10 countries of the European Intervention Initiative, a joint military pact created last year, led Sunday’s military parade down the Champs Elysees avenue in Paris.

In a message to the French people before the parade, President Emmanuel Macron highlighted the importance of France’s commitment to boost European security.

Some 4,300 soldiers, around 200 vehicles and over 100 aircraft, some from other European countries, were taking part in the parade that was opened by Spanish troops, according to Reuters.

The biggest crowd-pleaser on the display appeared to be a man rocketing through the air on a flyboard device — the invention of French former jet-skiing champion Franky Zapata.

Comfy & Stylish Walking Shoes

As someone who walks around all day, everyday when I travel, I know how difficult it is to find a pair of stylish walking shoes for travel. That's why I created this expert's guide to 12 of the best, stylish but comfortable walking shoes for travel! From Converse to UGGS to Birkenstocks, see which shoes made the list #travelshoes #walkingshoes #stylishsneakers #travelpacking #travelfashion #traveltips

(Sorry guys, this one’s for the ladies)

Stylish walking shoes for travel. Sounds impossible. Kind of like the Lochness Monster of the fashion world. Am I right?

Well thankfully, that’s a myth!

Truthfully though, this list won’t contain any super sexy, six-inch, stiletto heels that give you fantastic upper Lumbar support and that make you feel like you’re walking on air.

Sorry but honestly:

I can’t remember the last time I wore a pair of heels.


This list does contain an assortment of flats (ballet flats, boots, flip-flops, slip-ons, etc.) that are not only WICKED cute but that are uber comfortable too.

And I’ve worn all of these shoes so I’ll detail the good, the bad, and the UGLY about each and every pair.

Because really:

No shoes are totally perfect. But for MOST of us womenfolk, we need about ten thousand pairs of comfortable, stylish walking shoes for travel.


Not only are shoes cute, comfortable, and fun to wear, but they never make you feel fat!

Three cheers to that. Now if only I could eat whatever I want and not gain a pound.

But back to comfortable walking shoes.

They’re always there for you to comfort you and remind you that you are wicked awesome and insanely gorgeous, even if you’ve gained about a hundred pounds.

Because guess what?

You’re fashionable walking shoes? Yeah, they still fit! They never gave up on you!

So this post on stylish walking shoes for travel? Yeah, its an undying, ode of love to my shoes, who forever reassure me of just how amazing I really am.

At least:

That’s how I justify buying myself a ton of walking shoes for travel that I actually don’t need.

But onwards and upwards to all the glorious pairs of shoes!

1. AOMAIS Women’s Fashion PU Leather Sneakers Low Top Laceup Canvas Shoes

Let’s be honest. Are these AOMAIS sneakers the greatest and most comfortable walking shoes that I have ever owned?


But for $20 a pair, they are pretty darn good.

2. Converse, Chuck Taylor, All Star Low Tops

“I love getting blisters and watching my feet bleed!” said no one ever.


You also don’t want a heinous pair of sneakers (cough…Sketchers Shape Ups…cough) that make you look like a total selife sitck wielding, fanny pack toting tourist.


Unless you’re older and have a back problem, or have no idea how to tie shoes, velcro is not a super hott look.

So what’s the walking shoes for travel solution?

Converse! Not only is this iconic brand perfect for men and women of all ages (talk about a cross-generational fashion icon), but they are comfy, come in a ton of different colors, and can easily slip on and off (perfect for zipping through airport security).

3. DREAM PAIRS Women’s Winter Lace up Mid Calf Combat Boots

They are REALLY reasonably priced and cost $34 a pair, which is damn cheap when it comes to women’s boots.


Not only do they look good, but they are comfortable, easily zip on and off (perfect for airport security), and have a secret pocket, in each boot, where you hide extra cash/credit cards.

4. Cole Haan Women’s Elsie Ballet Ii Flat

My mission is life has always been to find cute ballet flats that I can actually walk around in all day while I travel, 

You know:

Without getting insane blisters that make me limp around like Tiny Tim’s big sister.

Only not in an endearing kind of way.

Well, I am delighted to say that I finally found a pair of ballet flats that both me and my feet love.

And no, I haven’t tried Tieks yet but when I do I MAY add them to the list.

Yup, Cole Haan ballet flats have been the answer to this ballet flat lover’s prayers.

Not only are they insanely comfortable, and made with incredibly high-quality leather, but they provide you with great support and are perfect for people who have wider feet (if your feet are narrow, you may want to size down).

5. TOMS Women’s Avalon Sneakers

I love TOMS.

Not only are they a company with a conscience, but they make high quality, comfortable, super cute shoes that are great for walking in.


They’re not the warmest shoes on the planet, but warmth isn’t really something that you’re looking for when purchasing TOMS.


The classic TOMS do have a rather thin sole that I would constantly wear out or destroy inadvertantly when walking over a jagged rock.

6. Teva Women’s W Voya Flip Flop

I LOVE TEVA flip flops so much.

They were my go-to flip flop in high school and still are today, at least if I need shower shoes or if I’m traveling somewhere tropical.


They’re not like normal flip flops that have no arch support and that fall apart in about 2.5 seconds since you’re basically walking on a thin layer of cheap plastic.


These bad boys of the flip flop world come in a variety of different colors, styles, and patterns, and are relatively inexpensive too.

And wait for it….

They were actually recommended to me by a physical therapist since they have hella awesome arch support.

7. Polar Women’s Winter Thermal Snow Outdoor Warm Mid Calf Waterproof Durable Boot

These winter boots cost $40, are absolutely adorable, and super comfortable to walk around in!


They’re also infinitely cheaper and warmer than that pair of Sorrel Boots I got five years ago.

8. Steve Madden Women’s Gills Fashion Sneaker

I’ll be the first one to admit that I have a slight love/hate relationship with Steve Madden, slip-on sneakers.


A while back, I got these quilted, Steve Madden slip-on sneakers, and they were exactly what I was looking for.

They were nicer than ordinary sneakers, comfortable, and incredibly easy to get on and off (especially at the airport with a pair of no show socks).

The one big flaw?

Until I broke them in, they gave me AWFUL blisters.

It got to the point where my blisters were so bad that I was kind of limping around while wearing them.  So when I finally caved and got these Steve Madden Women’s Gills Fashion Sneaker in leather, I was a bit worried.


I diligently researched this shoe before I purchased a pair and ordered a size up to avoid any possible blister incidents.  And I am delighted to report that my faith was not misplaced.

In this model:

The heel is rounded and padded so that blisters aren’t an issue. I would still wear no show socks though so that your shoes don’t smell.

They’re also super comfortable, last, a LONG time (so you can justify the price tag), look good with almost any outfit (as long as you get them in a neutral color) and are easy to get on an off.

9. Adidas Originals Women’s Campus


These aren’t the most stylish walking shoes on this list. Unless you’re dying to look like Sporty Spice while traveling.  In which case, go for it and own that shizxle.

But in all seriousness:

I put these shoes on the list because while they are mad comfortable, they are more nostalgic than anything else since the youth of America forever and always LOVE Adidas.


This pair in black and white totally remind me of the sambas we all used to wear when we were little.

Also not gonna lie:

These are awesome walking shoes that most men would probably love. Not that I know what men want but just an educated guess.

10. UGG Women’s Kristin Winter Boot

I feel like UGGS are the shoes that everyone loves to hate, but in reality, we all not so secretly love them.


Well, I feel like UGGS are basic AF (pass me my yoga pants and pumpkin spice latte while you’re at it) and if I’m honest, the classic pair is mad comfortable but not exactly a super sexy shoe.


If you wear them out in the snow (big no no) they get all those hideous salt stains on them.  They are also NOT naturally waterproof so make sure you buy the spray and waterproof the crap out of them before you wear them.


I just made UGGS sound horrible but I swear I love them, especially the UGG Women’s Kristin Winter Boot.

11. Franco Sarto Haylee Women’s Slip Ons

True confessions?

This is the only shoe on this list of best flats for walking that I don’t actually own myself.


There are just a little too professional for my taste (since I work from home and slum it up in sweatpants with holes).


One of my friends who travels a lot for work absolutely loves these shoes and insisted that I put them on this list (Shout out to Danielle, you’re the best).

12. Birkenstock Women’s Mayari Oiled Leather Sandal

I feel like I need to write a sonnet to my Birkenstock’s since I have been rocking them since the stone age.

AKA when I was still in high school.

And while the style of Brikenstock’s that I wear has changed dramatically since high school, my undying love for this brand of shoe has not.

Not only do they last forever (I always get tired of my shoes before they wear out):

But the Birkenstock Women’s Mayor style is super comfortable too.

Unlike my older pair of Birkenstocks that gave me zero support, not that I actually gave a hoot at the time, this pair is a bit more supportive with a built-in arch that I adore.

Only downside?

They take an eternity to break in but it’s totally worth waiting since these sandals literally mold to your foot.

So use this list of awesome travel shoes for women if you have no idea what shoes to pack for your next international flight or crazy long car trip.