Neighborhoods with rising crime rates usually turn to neighborhood watches, security cameras, or increased police patrols to bring their rates down. But in Japan, one neighborhood has turned to… tulips?

Authorities in the Tokyo district of Suginami were stymied when they saw a record 1,710 break-ins during 2002.

“Operation Flower” began in 2006 after a neighborhood watch organization reported that houses with flowers in front had less burglaries.


By planting flowers facing the street, more people will be keeping an eye out while taking care of the flowers or watering them,” said Kiyotaka Ohyagi, a Suginami City official. “The best way to prevent crime is to have more people on the lookout.”

The program has seen some success – there were only 390 break-ins in 2008, down 80% from the 2002 high. But the delicate buds are not the district’s only defense against hoodlums.

Operation Flower is just one of many crime-fighting programs, including 9,600 volunteer patrollers, 200 security cameras set up in areas where there are frequent break-ins, and daily e-mails on crime to residents.

“Our residents are very conscientious about preventing crime, and they are very active,” Ohyagi said.


Rachel is a writer and tutor living in Virginia. She loves learning about other cultures and thinks we’re all a little wacky.