My Neighborhood Katahoko

In a small area with narrow streets, Japanese families, and stray cats are three dormitories that house many-an-international student. Though supposedly studious people, we international students come off as fairly rambunctious at times as our alcoholic antics and bike brigades are imminent incidences around the neighborhood Katahoko.

While traveling down a “short-cut” consisting of narrow, supposedly two-way streets (that really only have the capacity to let through one vehicle and not even a bike at a time), we international students pass a lot of houses lined with plants and even fewer houses lined with water bottles.

Cat Water Bottles

I did not know the significance of these water bottles. The questions to be posed were: What caused these people to use water bottles? I thought perhaps they were to collect water and in times of desperation, families would boil the water and drink it. This problem and solution reminded me of what my grandparents do at their house in the Philippines, collecting water in buckets, bottles, and big tanks during the rainy season to have water during the drought, so I did not further question the existence of these mysterious water containers.

Later on, I found out that these water bottles were not to collect water whenever it rained, but rather to scare away cats. The reason being that the cats would see their reflections in the water and it would frighten them. Therefore, the cats would run away rather than lurk around the houses. I found that I am not alone in wondering why people use these water bottles. Through Darren Barefoot‘s blog, I read that cats are not the only animal people are trying to repel. Equally as annoying are dogs, apparently, because they tend to go to the bathroom on posts and walls. I am not sure if I fully believe that these water bottles can keep dogs away since dogs are territory-markers and will mark just about everything.

Cat in Kyoto

Whatever the reason, the use of these water bottles seemed like an old wives’ tale and a superstition. I was pleasantly surprised mostly because using water bottles is a rather old-fashioned tactic even in the hustle, bustle of a very technologically savvy Japan.


October 19, 2009. Uncategorized.

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