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Progress of Climatology in Japan

T A K E S H I S E K I G U T I *


DURING the 1880's, the mid-period of the Meiji age, scientific climatology was in- troduced into Japan by Dr. K. Nakamura, director of the Central Meteorological Observa- tory. Since then the science has undergone grad- ual development mainly through the efforts of Dr. T. Okada and Dr. R. Sekiguchi. At the present time, climatic studies are being carried on chiefly by three research groups. One is composed of members of the Central Meteorologi- cal Observatory; another includes graduates of schools of geography at national universities; and recently, some graduates of schools of agriculture with climatic interests who have joined the field.

Each of these groups treats climatology in a characteristic way. The climatologists at the Central Meteorological Observatory, mostly grad- uates of schools of physics (or geophysics), have a tendency to consider climatology as statistical meteorology. Therefore, their contributions to climatology are mainly statistical treatments of ob- served weather data, especially average atmos- pheric conditions. Until recently, the calcula- tions of average climatic values were done without specific practical aims. Now statistical analysis of daily weather data is carried on with the purpose of attaining higher accuracy in weather forecasting. For instance, the frequencies of mean positions of fronts, air masses, anticyclones and cyclones, as well as the sequence of different types of weather, have been calculated.

Studies by graduates of schools of geography have a tendency to treat climate as part of the human environment. Therefore, their main ef- forts have been devoted to the study of the cli- matology of Japan in connection with its regional geography. Up until the present time, their work has been based on the usual statistical weather data. Members of the Central Meteorological Observatory, since their studies in climatology are secondary to their work as meteorologists, have not the same consciousness of climatic re- gions as the geographers.

Graduates of schools of agriculture are in- terested in climate as part of the physical en-

* Central Meteorological Observatory, Tokyo. On leave to Johns Hopkins Laboratory of Climatology, 1952-

vironment of crops. Although their research is usually labelled "agricultural meteorology," their aim in reality is the study of climatic environ- ments.

In the following sections, I should like to re- view the work accomplished in the field of cli- matology and the status of the science in Japan under various topical headings (references to literature by the authors cited are given at the end of this article) :—

1. P H Y S I C A L C L I M A T O L O G Y

The science of climatology as introduced into Japan by Dr. K. Nakamura was physical climatol- ogy. Theories of climate were studied, including the effects of such factors as latitude and dis- tribution of land and sea on the climatic elements of temperature, wind and humidity. This type of study has been continued by Drs. T. Okada, S.

Ono, D. Nishimura, T. Terada, and T. Sekiguti.

2 . R E G I O N A L C L I M A T O L O G Y

After the introduction of physical climatology, the compilation of the Japanese climatography began, using weather observations already made for some years at various weather stations. Cli- matographies of Japan have been compiled twice;

in 1897 in Japanese by Dr. K. Nakamura en- titled Climate of Japan and again in English in 1931 by Dr. T. Okada, The Climate of Japan, one of the masterpieces of this type. In both of these studies the description of the climates was based mainly on the average weather conditions.

Several studies have been made of the classifi- cation of Japanese climates. New methods have been examined in an effort to obtain a more effec- tive and suitable classification of Japan's climates.

Dr. E. Fukui was the first to work in this field.

He presented numerous papers on the classifica- tion of climates as applied to Japan. Reports on the same subject have been made by T. Kira, and T. Sekiguti.

Climatic atlases of Japan have also been pub- lished. The first one was an appended map of the Dai-Nippon Fudo Hen by K. Nakamura (1897).

A more complete atlas is the Atlas of the Climates of Japan, including data for neighboring countries by Dr. T. Okada (1931). Recently a more pre- cise atlas was issued by the Industrial Meteorol-


ogical Association of Japan, The Climatographical Atlas of Japan (1948). Dr. Y. Daigo also com- piled the Handy Atlas of Agricultural Meteorology of Japan published in 1947. Climatic studies of the neighboring countries in the Orient, Climato- logical Data on the Far East (6 vols., 1941-42) and climatic descriptions of various countries were compiled by members of the Central Meteor- ological Observatory during World War II.

These reports contributed much to the progress of the Japanese climatology, but unfortunately, their circulation has been very limited.

3 . D Y N A M I C C L I M A T O L O G Y

Studies in this field are not based on the usual average climatic data, but on actual daily weather conditions. The movement of frontal lines, air masses and their modifications and the changing processes of weather characteristics as analyzed on daily synoptic charts are taken as elements.

Here climates are regarded as a "synthesis" of actual dynamic weather phenomena. In Japan this approach to climatology was first taken up by Dr. H. Arakawa, and has been utilized since in various papers by Drs. K. Takahashi, M. Morita and T. Sekiguti. Others, at Osaka and elsewhere, have applied this concept to the description of local and regional climates.

4 . L O C A L A N D C I T Y C L I M A T E S

The study of local climates in Japan dates from the publication of the data on temperature in Vienna by Dr. Wm. Schmidt in 1927.

The main interest in the study of the climates of Japanese cities has been the difference in air tem- perature between cities and country, the secular change in air temperature, and the geographical distribution of various elements in city areas.

However, in the works of Drs. E. Fukui, S.

Yoshimura, H. Hatakeyama, and T. Kato on city climates no new general facts have been brought to light.

The main purpose in studying local climates other than city climates has been to analyze the effects of topography and surface cover. A theo- retical analysis of the influence of local topography on local wind, for example, was published by Dr.

H. Arakawa. On the other hand, there are many field observations: K. Iwasaki measured the tem- peratures at various locations on the hillsides of the Pacific coast of Japan (Shizuoka and Wako- yama Prefs.) in connection with a study of orchard culture. Dr. T. Sekiguti made a series of obser- vations of air temperautre, humidity and wind conditions in various locations in the small plains

of the central highlands and the eastern coastal region; and also published several articles on the phenological phenomena of these regions. Various so-called "Fudo measurements,, (local geographi- cal measurements) in the Central Highland in Japan by K. Misawa (193 ?) offer many interesting problems in local climatology.

Regional studies of the distribution of rainfall have been carried out by Drs. E. Fukui, N. Obara and J. Sugaya. Recently there have been many detailed studies of the distribution of rainfall in mountainous areas in connection with the construc- tion of new waterpower stations.

Some studies of forest climates made by Dr. T.

Hirata and his successors should be mentioned here, but their works contain many uncertainties.

Generally speaking, an active future is antici- pated in this field.

5. M I C R O C L I M A T O L O G Y

Most of the work in microclimatology has been experimental. Many observations on cultivated fields and on sand dunes have been made by Dr.

Y. Daigo, Dr. T. Namekawa, K. Takasu, and T.

Asai and there are vast amounts of observational data from experimental farms at various locations.

However, Japanese microclimatolgy seems to be still in the observation-collection stage.

6 . C L I M A T I C C H A N G E

This section deals with the variation in climate throughout historical time in Japan. A laborious and valuable work, Nippon Kisho Shiryo ("Me- teorological data in the history of Japan") was published in 1939 by T. Taguchi. Using his data and the results of tree-ring analysis, several stud- ies in climatic variation have been made by T.

Taguchi, Dr. M. Hoyanagi, and Dr. T. Yamamoto.

The relationship between sun spots and the climate has been analyzed by many researchers in this country, among which those of Drs. R. Seki- guchi and S. Fujiwhara are well-known, such as the latter's studies on the date of complete freezing of Lake Suwa (Omi-Watari). Recently Dr. T.

Yamamoto has been interested in correlating sun- spots periods with climatic change in Japan.

One problem eagerly pursued' by Japanese cli- matologists has been the relationship between changing climatic conditions and the poor harvests in the north-eastern district. Drs. T. Okada, K.

Suda, and H. Arakawa, considering the possible causes of climatic change in this district, suggest sun spots, the change of the currents in the North Pacific Ocean, and effects of volcanic eruptions, etc.


7 . P H E N O L O G Y

Phenological studies have been popular among agricultural climatologists in Japan. Some spe- cialized books on phenology have been published and also a very large number of papers. How- ever, most of these are no more than collections of the dates when various seasonal biological phenomena occur. A few papers of significance are: Animal and Plant Phenology by Drs. Y.

Daigo, M. Nakahara, et al, and Human Phenology by T. Sekiguti. In this connection the variation of snow and ice is considered important; a Cli- matographical Atlas of Snow and Ice was recently published by the Central Meteorological Observa- tory and a study on snowcover by Dr. E. Fukui is noteworthy.

The recent trend in phenology in Japan, has been toward the detailed analysis of collected phenological data, and the discussion of their cli- matological explanation, as exemplified in reports by Drs. K. Nomura and T. Sekiguti.

8 . A P P L I E D C L I M A T O L O G Y

This is an active field of study in Japan, devoted to analyzing the role of climate on human activity and thought, considering climate as one of the elements composing the human as well as the plant environment. We can classify these studies into the following three groups.

Agricultural Climatology.—The chief aims seem to be the search on the one hand for correlations between the yield of a crop and the climatic condi- tions, and on the other for an apparent relationship between the geographical cultivation limits and various climatic elements. Dr. Y. Daigo has been most active in this field ; a general view is contained in his Nippon Sakumotsu Kisho no Kenkyu ("Me- teorological studies of crops in Japan"), issued in

1 9 4 7 .

All though many reports on the empirical rela- tionship between climate and sericulture have been published, this work is still in the exploratory stage.

Industrial Climatology.—As yet only prelimi- nary papers have been presented, such as concern- ing the relation between the climate and such in- dustrial activity as the making of japan ware and salt manufacturing.

Human Climatology.—A series of works by K.

Misawa must be noted, compiled mainly in his book, the Fado Sangyo ("Industries adapting themselves to local geographical conditions") (es- pecially in Nagano Pref.). Dr. T. Yazawa re- ported on the climatic significance of wind breaks and T. Sekiguti studied the relationship between

the prevailing winds and the direction faced by the rural houses. As to food and clothing, we have few reports. Only a few popular articles have been published on the relation between climate and local dialect, local tradition and local genius.

An investigation by Dr. T. Sekiguti of the geo- graphical distribution of the famous local wind names in Japan and their climatical and geographi- cal meanings may be mentioned.


Japan is noted for its many climatic disasters:

floods, droughts, typhoons, killing frosts, fires, and abnormally cool summers. There have been few years without some disaster involving large losses.

Therefore, this aspect of climatology is important.

Disasters are complex phenomena; the magni- tude of a disaster does not depend merely on the magnitude of the deviation from normal weather conditions, it is influenced also by geographical and social conditions. It is a difficult problem to assess the importance of the climatic role among the causes of the disaster. Several important pub- lications in the field of Japanese climatic disasters are listed in the references.


The preceding notes have suggested the de- velopment and scope of climatology in Japan since its introduction in the mid-Meiji period. In Japan, most of the climatological studies have been done by meteorologists and progress in climatology has gone hand in hand with progress in meteor- ology. For this reason, Japanese climatology has not been completely systematized as an independ- ent science. There are too few specialists and the knowledge is still fragmental and improvised.

Unfortunately, it appears from the present situa- tion that this limitation will continue for some time.

Climatology in Japan is striving on the one hand toward a more precise measurement of cli- mate as one of the elements making up the human environment. Another aim is to arrive at a classification of the climates of regions whose geo- graphic conditions are known but where climatic observations are not available. In this connection, T. Sekiguti has made a study of the methods of estimating regional temperatures in Japan.

Compared to the status of the science of clima- tology in other countries, Japanese climatology does not lag far behind. If the climatologists in Japan will extend their efforts further to over- come their weaknesses, they can contribute much to the progress of world climatology.



I would like to express my thanks to Dr. C. W.

Thornthwaite, the director of the Laboratory of Climatology, the Johns Hopkins University, who suggested the publication of this paper, to Mrs. M.

Sanderson for her kind revision of the manuscript.

REFERENCES Physical Climatology:

[1] K. Nakamura: "The Geographical Distribution of Solar Energy," Jour. Met. Soc. Japan, 1-8 (1889).

[2] T. Okada: "On the Influence of Land and Sea on Annual Variations in Air Temperature," Geoph.

Mag., 3 (1930).

[3] S. Ono and D. Nishimura: "Average Tempera- tures in and around Japanese Islands," Geoph.

Mag., 3 (1930).

[4] T. Terada: "The Effect of Topography on Precipi- tation in Japan," Jour. Coll. Sc. Tokyo, 41 (1919).

[5] T. Terada: "Diurnal Variations in Wind Directions at Various Coastal Stations in Japan," Rep. Aero.

Res. Inst., 1 (1922).

Regional Climatology:

[6] K. Nakamura: Dai-Nippon-Fudo-hen (Climate of Japan), 1897.

[7] T. Okada: "Climate of Japan," Bull. Centr. Met.

Obs., 4 (1931).

[8] E. Fukui: "Climatic provinces of Japan," Geogr.

Rev. Japan, 9 (1933).

[9] T. Kira: "A New Climatic Classification of Eastern Asia for Agricultural Geographers," Rep. Hort.

Inst. Kyoto Univ., 1945.

[10] T. Sekiguti: "Basic Problems in Climatic Classifi- cation—A New Classification of The Climates of Japan," Rep. XVIIth International Geogr. Union, 1952.

Dynamic Climatology:

[11] H. Arakawa: "Air Masses of Japan," Jour Met.

Soc. Japan, 11-14 (1936).

[12] K. Takahashi: "Dynamic Climatological Considera- tions of the Alternation of Early Summer Weather in Far Eastern Asia," Jour. Met. Soc. Japan, 11-18


[13] M. Morita: "Air Masses and Climate," Kenkyu- jiho (Res. Mem. CMO Japan), 1947.

[14] T. Sekiguti: "The Basic Conception of Air Analy- sis," Geogr. Rev. Japan, 18 (1942).

[15] A. Hakoda & C. Kinka: "A Micro-air Mass Study in and around Osaka," Jour. Met. Soc. Japan, 11-17


Local Climatology:

(City Climate)

[16] E. Fukui: "Horizontal Distributions of Air Tem- perature in the Great Cities of Japan," Geogr. Rev.

Japan, 17 (1941).

[17] E. Fukui: "Distribution of UV-radiation around the Great Cities in Japan," Geogr. Rev. Japan, 15


[18] E. Fukui: "Secular Climatic Change in the Great Cities of Japan," Jour. Met. Soc. Japan, 11-21


[19] S. Yoshimura and K. Misawa: "Temperature Dis- tribution in Early Morning in Kami-suwa Town and Its Vicinity, Nagano Pref.," Geogr. Rev. Japan, 7 (1931).

[20] H. Hatakeyama: "The Temperature Distribution in and around Tokyo," Jour. Met. Soc. Japan, 11-10


[21] T. Kato: "Air Temperature in Tokyo and its En- virons," Jour. Met. Soc. Japan, 11-30 (1952).

(Local Climate)

[22] S. Ono: "Orographic Precipitation," Phil. Mag., 49 (1925).

[23] S. Yoshimura, K. Iwasaki and G. I to: "Micro- climatic Observations on Strawberry Fields on the Southern Slopes of Mr. Kuno, Shizuoka Pref.,"

Jour. Geogr. Japan, 47 (1935).

[24] K. Iwasaki: "Regional Aro-geographical Aspects on Plum- and Mulberry Orchards at the Coastal Region of the Ki-i Peninsula, Wakayama, Pref.,"

Geogr. Mem. Otsuka, 3 (1934).

[25] T. Sekiguti: "Introduction to Local Climatology,"

Geoph. Mag., 22 (1950).

[26] T. Sekiguti: "Prevailing Winds and Their Influence on Persimmon Trees at Akaho Fan, Negano Pref.,"

Pap. Met. Geoph., 2 (1951).

[27] T. Sekiguti: "Humidity Distribution and Surface Cover," Pap. Met. Geoph., 2 (1951).

[28] T. Sekiguti: "Temperature Distribution and Sur- face Cover," Pap. Met. Geoph., 2 (1951).

[29] M. Nagai: "Geographical Distribution of Snowfall in Yamagata Pref. and other related Studies,"

Geogr. Rev. Japan, 10 (1934).

[30] K. Sasakura: "The Distribution of Air Temperature in and around the Town of Omachi, Nagano Pref., Geogr. Rev. Japan, 8 (1932).

[31] K. Sasakura: Local Climatology (1950).

[32] N. Obara: "Wind Direction and Rainfall in The Nabeta River Valley, near Shimoda, Izu Penin- sula," Geogr. Rev. Japan, 10 (1934).

[33] E. Fukui: "Distribution of Rainfall around Shimoda, Izu Peninsula," Geogr. Rev. Japan, 12 (1936).

Micro climatology:

[34] Y. Daigo: Micrometeorological Studies in Farm Fields (1948).

[35] K. Takasu: "Microclimatic Characteristics of Sea- side Dunes in Summer at Karo, Tottori Pref.,"

Plant & Animal, 8 (1940).

[36] T. Asai: "Microclimatic Characteristics of Salt Fields in Summer at Aboshi, Hyogo Pref.,"

Kagaku (Science), 8 (1938).

[37] S. Suzuki: "The Meteorology of Slope Surfaces,"

Agri. & Hort., 22 (1947).

Climatic Change:

[38] S. Fujiwhara: "Notes on Climatic Variation as Evidenced from the Date of the First Complete Freezing of Lake Suwa," Geogr. Ann., 3 (1921).

[39] R. Sekiguchi: "Cycles in Climate," Umi to Sora (Sea and Sky), 6 (1938).

[40] T. Taguchi: "Climate of Japan in Historical Ages,"

Umi to Sora (Sea and Sky), 19 (1938).

[41] M. Hoyanagi: "Tree-Ring Analysis and Climatic Change in Inner Mongolia," Geogr. Rev. Japan, 16 (1940).

[42] T. Yamamoto: "The Secular Change of Climate in Japan," Geoph. Mag., 21 (1950), 22 (1951).

(Cool Summer)

[43] T. Okada: "Origin of Abnormally Cool Summers in the Northeastern District," Tenki to Kiko (Weather and Climate), 1 (1931).

[44] K. Suda: "The Relationship Between Abnormally Cool Summers and Eruptions of the Volcano Asama," Tenki to Kiko (Weather and Climate), 2 (1932).


[45] H. Arakawa: "The Relationship between Cool Sum- mers in Northeastern Japan and Average Solar Radiation Intensity Measured at the Surface of the Earth," Jour. Met. Soc. Japan, 11-22 (1944).


[46] Y. Daigo: Phenological Studies in Japan (1947).

[47] M. Nakahara: Phenological Phenomena (1948).

[48] T. Sekiguti: " A Human Phenological Study of Japan," Geogr. Social Life, 12 (1949).

[49] E. Fukui: "Snowcover Distribution in a Coastal Sand-dune area of Japan," Geogr. Rev. Japan, 12


[50] T. Sekiguti: "A Climatological Study of the 80%

Flowering Dates of Cherry Trees at Akaho Fan, Nagano Pref.," Geoph. Mag., 22 (1950).

[51] K. Nomura: "An Agro-climatological Study in Phenology," Ind. Mem. Japan, 13 (1948).

Applied Climatology:

[52] J. Kawakita: "A Quantitative Classification of Land Productivity Based on Calorie Measure- ments," Geogr. Soc. Life, 19 (1949).

[53] M. Nakahara: "Agro-meteorological Studies on the Plateau and Cold Regions of Japan," Ind. Met.

Mem.. 10 (1942).

[54] Ch. Suzuki: Sericulture and Meteorology, (1949).

[55] K. Kimura: Climate and Housing, (1947).

[56] K. Koda: "Humidity as Factor Governing the Lo- cation of the Silk Industry in Japan," Geogr. Rev.

Japan, 9 (1933).

[57] T. Yazawa: Climatic Landscape (1953).

[58] T. Sekiguti: "Studies of Local Wind Names in Japan," Geogr. Rev. Japan, 16 (1940), 17 (1941), 18 (1942).

[59] T. Sekiguti: "Rural Houses and Prevailing Winds,"

Pap. Met. Geoph., 1 (1950).

Climatic Disasters:

[60] A Synthetic Study of a Flood," Inst. f. Agr. Phy., 2 vols. (1949-50).

[61] Climatic Provinces for Agricultural Insurance from Meteorological Disasters, Central Met. Obs. Japan


[62] A Chronological Table of Meteorological Disasters in Japan, Central Met. Obs. (1949).

[63] Trajectories of Tropical Cyclones in Japan, Central Met. Obs. (1951).

[64] Y. Daigo: Agro-meteorological Studies on Drought (1943).

[65] S. Suzuki: Fire and Meteorology (1950).


Aviation Magazines Wanted

You are asked to donate or exchange aviation maga- zines needed by the National Air Museum to complete its ready reference library of aviation periodicals. This li- brary is part of the national aeronautical collection and is used by the Museum staff and the aviation fraternity at large for research dealing with aviation history. Scat- tered issues of magazines are needed to complete partial volumes already on hand, and a "want list" and list of duplicate issues available for exchange can be supplied on request. Inquiries should be addressed to Robert C.

Stroebell, Associate Curator, National Air Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Washington 25, D. C.—K. C. S.


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