(How do I categorise this post!)
Came across this interesting post that relates the patterns on manhole covers to the extent of creative thinking by societies at large. Confused? Go look!
Kathy Sierra writes:
Two manhole covers--one about 100 yards from my Colorado house:
and the other on a typical residential district in Tokyo.
Beauty and attention to design detail... everywhere I turned during my two week stay (Tokyo and Kyoto), I saw it. Every--and I mean every Japanese restaurant (including the fast-food sushi joints) had an architectural bent. A sense of style. An aesthetic sensibility you just don't see throughout the US!