Old Instrumental Data

Recovery of 19th century meteorological data in Japan

Japan is regarded as one of the many blank spots in the pre-1900 world, as the official meteorological network started only in the 1870s. Prior to 1872, no Japanese meteorological records were thought to exist apart from visual data documented in diaries (Mikami, 1988; Mikami et al., 2000; Mikami, 2008) of Japanese administrators at many places in Japan. Until recently, it was believed that the only pre-1872 instrumental data regarding Japanese climate were taken by the Dutch in the settlement of Dejima (Nagasaki). Recently, however, it was (re)discovered (Amano, 1952, 1953; Tsukahara, 2005) that for a few places in Japan, most noticeably Edo (Tokyo) and Osaka, sub-daily weather records were taken routinely by Japanese scientists. These Japanese meteorological observations were associated with the development of astronomical research by the so-called ‘Dutch Study’ scholars, as a result of Japan’s modernization and the introduction of modern western instruments. As these data, on the one hand, partly overlap with the Dejima data, while on the other, fill some of its gaps, a search was started to recover them from Japanese archives and elsewhere.


Pre-1900 availability of meteorological data in Japan.  Grey: official meteorological stations from JMA
(Zaiki et al., 2006)



Example of old meteorological records at Dejima, Nagasaki in 1852 and 1853