Chalk Warnings about Dog Droppings Becoming Popular around JapanDramatic Decrease via Method from Uji, Kyoto Prefecture
Neglected dog droppings encircled in yellow chalk to warn owners... Uji City, Kyoto Prefecture, has been encouraging citizens' participation through its "yellow chalk operation" over the past two years. This low-cost operation is easy to launch, and seems to be having a positive effect. Attention is spreading among other local governments that are pooped out over poo problems and an increasing number of them have decided to adopt this method. The image of "Uji," usually associated with tea, temples and shrines, is now changing to a new one.
On the morning of May 15, six officers of the joint neighborhood association of Todo Kurumada, Uji City, actively participated in neighborhood beautification. They tended flowerbeds along the bank of a branch of the Uji River, looking for dog droppings. That day, they found some left in three locations on the grass. They marked the spots with arrows, times and dates in yellow chalk on nearby road surfaces. When found on the road, they draw a circle around them. As a general rule, they do not collect them, but return to the area later to see if the droppings still remain.
The neighborhood association's chairman said, "It is good that anyone can easily do this. This is our neighborhood, so we have to clean up on our own." He feels that the amount of droppings has been reduced. He has also arranged a place to store chalk so it can be used any time.
"Showing that someone is watching pressures dog owners to clean droppings up. When the streets become cleaner with fewer droppings, they won't let them become dirty again," said a person in charge of the environmental planning section of Uji City government who devised the yellow chalk operation. In the city, the number of registered pet dogs has been increasing every year. There had also been unceasing complaints about dog poop. The city once tried placing yellow cards near the droppings, but the cards themselves ended up in the garbage. As it required money and efforts, that movement died down.
Thus, the yellow chalk operation began in 2016, modelled after crackdowns on illegal parking. The method is being taught via demonstration to neighborhood associations and individuals. In approximately 30 city neighborhoods with many reported complaints, a total of about 130 droppings had been found in January last year, and that was reduced to about 10 percent by the end of the year.
Having learned about this activity through newspaper and television, local governments across Japan and other organizations have made more than 80 inquiries and visits. An increasing number of them are adopting the activity. Kodaira City, Tokyo, confirmed its efficacy in part of the city, and began the project citywide from May. Fuji City in Shizuoka Prefecture and Kurume City in Fukuoka Prefecture are also distributing chalk to their residents. "This solves the problem in a low-cost way. It is easy for other local governments to imitate," said a person in charge of Nagoya City government, Aichi Prefecture, who conducted a verification. Some, like Shimamoto Town, Osaka Prefecture, say, "Uji exuded a strong image of history and tradition, but its impression has changed considerably due to this progressive approach."
Seeing the activity spreading widely, the person in charge in Uji City said with feeling, "It was beyond the scope of our expectations that this activity undertaken on residents' initiative was communicated from Uji City, and it has attracted sympathy from an increasing number of people. I would love them to imitate us more and more."(Translated by Mie Hiuzon, Psyche et l’Amour, Inc.)