Utility hole covers have gained popularity as art in recent years with designs unique to each location. However little is known but this utility hole cover art goes way back in 1977 when Okinawa first installed their horse mackerel motif cover. Since then, local governments and other organizations have adopted these stylized utility hole covers.
To help boost tourism in rural and lesser-known destinations, a world-renowned character from the world-popular franchise, Pokémon has been serving as an artistic cover for utility holes. Familiarly known as Poké Lids than just utility hole covers, since 2019, it has been installed throughout the country with 6 in Tokyo as part of the Pokémon Local Acts project.
Satoshi Tajiri, the creator of Pokémon, spent his youth in Machida, where there were still many rice fields and forests. When he was a boy, his experience of collecting insects at Serigaya Park and the other outdoors of Machida later led to the birth of "Pokémon. While it is not official, out of the many forests that appeared in the games of Pokémon, this park can say to symbolize Viridian Forest. It is because the Poké Lids placed around feature 6 Pokémons all appeared in the first-generation Kanto Pokédex. The Poké Lids of Bulbasaur, Charmander, Squirtle, Weelde, Oddish, Rattata, Pidgey, and Poliwag are hidden around the vast park covering an area of about 11.4 hectares.
The park is about a 13-minute walk from the East exit along the railway track at Machida Station on the Odakyu and JR Yokohama lines. While most of these Poké Lids are located outside Tokyo, on August 21st, 2020, for the first time in Tokyo and as the 100th Poké Lids, finally it was installed at Serigaya Park. Since its installation, this off-the-beaten-track park famous for its cherries has become the new mecca for Pokémon fans. Just like Viridian Forest, sprawling woodlands expand across the Serigaya Park with its deep greenery so pleasant to walk through. Because of its abundant natural environment, it is also home to many animals and insects. Although showing some similarity, this park has more light and lesser dense forests than in Viridian Forest, making visitors easier to go through.
Strolling around the park in a clockwise direction from the northernmost part of the park, Bulbasaur Poké Lid is spotted in the Flower Garden under the plum trees. Once in a while, trains on the Odakyu Line pass by above. The area around here is a wetland, and water was gushing out from under the steel towers creating a small stream on the north side. However, the area is super dry and mainly grassy but not muddy.
From the Bulbasaur Poké Lid towards the first open area near the public toilet, Charmander Poké Lid awaits closeby at the foot of the stairs.
A tranquil serenity with a cool breeze under the trees and by the water areas, this park is a great place to spend the day. There are benches and pavilions here and there with some people drawing sketches of the scenery of this beautiful park. Carp is swimming in the pond and the spring water flows down through the wood to the pond. The cherry blossoms in the spring and the autumn foliage are also something to look forward to, but perhaps because the terrain on the northside of the park is not well exposed to the sun, the leaves do not turn as beautiful as other places unless the conditions are very favorable.
The park is divided into north and south sides by a road in between but connected by a tunnel underneath. While the north side is Japanese styled, the south is in a western style. As soon as getting out of the short tunnel, the park’s main cherries will amaze the visitors during the Spring season.
After going under the tunnel to the south side of the park and towards the public artwork "Tokiokoshi" (1990) by Kyoko Hirano on the left, there is a utility hole cover with two Poliwags. The flower next to the monster ball is the flower of Machida City with irises and wisteria in Yakushi Pond as a motif.
Just a short walk in the counterclockwise direction from the Poliwag utility hole cover around the open space, Weedle, Oddish, and Caterpie designed utility hole cover is located.
Since the design on the utility hole covers matches with the trees here, this place might have been once the nest of such insects, however, there is no proof to back up this assumption.
Over by the silver monument, across the field from Poliwag, there is a Rattata and Pidgey Poké Lid at the "Rainbow and Water Plaza." This spot is a popular place for children to play in the water in the summer. The tip of the cylindrical part of the metallic monument in the fountain sways as the wind blows and water drips down and creates a rainbow. It is probably how the plaza got its name from.
If taking a closer look, this fountain has been illustrated in the Rattata and Pidgey Poké Lid just with more grassy areas than is in the park.
The final Squirtle-designed Poké Lid is located in the south of “Rainbow and Water Plaza," closeby to Rattata and Pidgey Poké Lid. When the water splashes down into the fountain, it looks like Squirtle is bathing. This is one of the best locations to see the cherries with the iconic silver monument and the blue sky.
These Poké Lids installed in Serigaya Park in Machida City are also registered as a Pokéstop for "Pokémon GO," attracting fans yearly. All are designed in such a way that symbolizes the city but maintaining the world of Pokémon. Since it is free of charge, not only to the fans of Pokémon but also to anyone, this park should be on the next bucket list.
13 minute walk from JR Machida Station on Odakyu Line or JR Yokohama Line (Central Exit)
Open from 6am to 18pm (Between June to August, 6am to 19pm)