How to Make a Japanese Deer Scarer

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In traditional Japanese gardens, the shishi odoshi was used to scare away deer. Today, one is often added to gardens for a bit of Zen aesthetic. Essentially, a shishi odoshi is a bamboo fountain that makes noise. It does so by pouring water into a hinged tube that turns over when full, spilling its water. It then returns to its original position, knocking against a rock and making its deer-scaring noise.

Things You'll Need

  • Bamboo (roughly 1- and 2-inch diameter)
  • Saw
  • Drill
  • 8-inch drill bit extender
  • Paddle bit
  • 1/2- and 1-inch drill bits
  • 1/2-inch-thick wooden dowels
  • Polyurethane glue
  • Pond or reservoir
  • Post-hole digger
  • Medium-sized submersible pump
  • Plastic tubing
  • Gravel
  • Rock

Preparing the Bamboo

Choose the bamboo for the seesaw pipe. This bamboo should be 2 to 3 feet long, about 2 inches in diameter and contain at least two nodes. The nodes are the dark raised rings on the bamboo. These nodes indicate the beginning and end of a hollow part in the bamboo.

Cut the seesaw pipe bamboo so that it contains two nodes, with a hollow section exposed at either end and another hollow section trapped between the two solid nodes. Cut one end at a sharp angle and leave the other end blunt.

Using the drill, bit extender, and a paddle bit, drill out the middle node closest to the sharp-angled end. This will create a hollow space roughly double the length of the one on the blunt end. This is the part that will get filled with water.

Drill a 1/2-inch hole all the way through the diameter of the seesaw pipe, near the center but a little closer to the angled end. Place a 1/2-inch dowel through this hole. Secure the dowel with glue. Cut the dowel so that about 3-1/2 inches stick out of either side of the pipe.

Cut two bamboo support poles. Use bamboo about 1 inch in diameter and make each pole roughly 3 feet long.

Drill a hole slightly bigger than 1/2 inch through one wall of each of these poles. Position the hole about 12 inches from one end of each pole. The end to which the hole is closest is now the top of each pole.

Drill the nodes out of one of the support poles so that the pole is completely hollow.

Constructing the Fountain

Choose a site near your pond or reservoir for your fountain. Using the post-hole digger, dig a hole in the ground about 12 inches deep, 12 inches long and 6 inches wide.

Place each end of the dowel running through the seesaw pipe into each hole at the top of the support pipes. Place the opposite ends of the support pipes in the hole you dug, pushing them into the ground so that they stand up on their own. The blunt end of the seesaw pipe should rest on the ground outside the hole, holding the seesaw pipe at an angle.

Choose a piece of bamboo about 2 inches in diameter. Cut a cross pole from this bamboo that is about 8 inches long. Drill two 1-inch holes through one wall of the bamboo, placing each hole about 1 inch from each end. Drill another 1-inch hole through one wall of the bamboo in the center of the cross pole. Make this hole roughly perpendicular to the other two holes.

Place this cross pole on top of the other two poles. The center hole in the cross bar should face the angled end of the seesaw pole. Secure the cross pole with glue.

Cut a 1-inch-diameter piece of bamboo about 12 inches long, with one end sharply angled. This will be the water spout. Position it in the center hole of the cross pole but do not secure it. Trim it so that water falling out of it will spill into the angled end of the seesaw pole.

Supplying the Water

Position your submersible pump in your pond or reservoir.

Run plastic tubing from the pump, up the hollow support pole, into the cross pole and into the water spout. Test the pump to make sure water flows and falls into the seesaw pipe. Secure the spout with glue when adjusted properly.

Fill the hole in which you placed the fountain with gravel. Place a rock under the blunt end of the seesaw tube so that it makes a noise when it falls back.

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