Monday, June 8, 2009
PET Bottles Turned Anti-pet Bottles
Yokohama - Walk down any street here and you are sure to notice them. Old plastic beverage containers filled with water are just about everywhere in sight. Let the eye wander and you’ll find them lined up along the tops of walls, scattered about postage stamp sized gardens, or standing sentry around potted plants. Known to locals as PET bottles (PET is short for Polyethylene terephthalate, the type of plastic used to make most beverage bottles), these glistening, sun pierced crystal-like chambers are often among the first exotic objects to meet the eyes of visitors to this far eastern land. Dividing light into a palette of colors splashed across the concrete foot path, these oversized gems dotting the modern Japanese urban landscape are in a word, “unsightly.” They are another one of those “mysteries of the Orient” that have prompted more than one traveler to ask: “What’s with all the bottles?”
In her Japan Times’ “What the heck is it?” column , Alice Gordenker lifts the shroud of mystery surrounding the ubiquitous bottles. Apparently they are believed to ward off cats. Now, I was under the impression that the natives of Japan had a fondness for cats (witness the Hello Kitty phenomenon) but apparently the love affair has gone to the dogs. I just can’t decide which is more visually disturbing, the sight of a few feline calling cards left behind or old soda pop bottles strewn all over the place.
In her article, Gordenker points out among other things, like potential hazards, that the bottles have no effect in scaring away cats. A simple search on the internet will dig up a number of sites in Japanese that note virtually the same thing which casual observation will easily support. So now my question is: “What’s with all the bottles?”