Mystery Bottles

Water bottle garden fence?
I had not been in Fukuyama for very long before I noticed a number of clear, 2 litre, plastic drink bottles, filled with water and placed in a row on someones front steps. I thought it was odd that the bottles were placed out almost decoratively, but the only thing I could think of was that they were warming up water for their plants. I am not sure if other people have ever done this, but the well water in Canada is absolutely frigid, so we usually warmed it up in the sunshine before dousing the garden.

Fly scaring bag
As soon as I became aware of them, I noticed the plastic bottles of water everywhere. They were lining people's fences, surrounding gardens, along walkways, and just about everywhere else. I kept an eye on a few of them and saw that they were never refilled or moved, so they were obviously not being used for watering plants. My next best guess was that they were to keep flies away. Where my dad lives in Mexico, they keep plastic bags filled with water in the window to ward off flies. Perhaps the bottles were a form of fly repellant? I hadn't noticed a single fly since arriving in Japan, so either they were doing a fantastic job of scaring them away, or they were not for flies after all.
Making friends with a not so feral neighbourhood cat

After a few more weeks of speculation, I finally asked a Japanese friend of ours about the bottles and found out that they are to scare away cats. Apparently the glinting of sunlight off of water tricks the cats into thinking there is a body of water that they want to avoid. There are quite a few stray cats in our neighbourhood, and it is apparently a serious problem in Japan as a whole, so I can see why people would want to keep them from using their gardens as a litter box, their sheds as a place to have their kittens, or tearing apart their trash. I am really curious about how well these bottles actually work. It seems to me that cats are intelligent enough and have good enough eye sight to figure out that the water is contained inside a bottle. If we ever have a problem with cats lurking around I will have to test its effectiveness myself.

To demonstrate how common these bottles are, all three photos were taken within 100 meters of each other by the canal in our neighbourhood. 


Carol said...

Isn't that strange? I really wonder if it works. Theo is so cute, making friends with that fat old cat.

Laura said...

Yes, she was so friendly! The kind of cat that starts purring even before you start petting it

Anonymous said...

You just answered one of the longest standing questions i've had about Japan. Wow. Can't believe it took 3 years to figure that one out.

Laura said...

Haha! Glad to be of service (^_^)

Carol said...

I mentioned this to the young Japanese woman who comes in the library, and she smiled brightly and said, "Oh, to keep the cats away!" We laughed about it and I told her that Central Americans do it to keep flies away. We decided to try it this summer.