Journal of Geography
Type de publication et date de parutionRevue
Paru(e) le

Journal of Geography


Lien(s) externe(s) Tokyo Geographical Society
ISSN 0022-135X

Articles de Patrick Beillevaire : 

  • Father Louis Furet, Missionary of the Paris Foreign Missions SocietyHis Life and Scientific Observations on Okinawa (1855‒1862)パリ外国宣教会のルイ・フュレ神父 (p. 483-501)

During the second half of the 1850s, Louis Furet (1816-1900), a French priest sent by the Paris Foreign Missions Society, undertook the first extended scientific meteorological observations on Okinawa, the main island of the kingdom of Ryukyu, today's Okinawa Prefecture. Using instruments borrowed from the French Navy Depot, he collected data five times a day according to the then recently standardized protocols. These data were all addressed to Charles Sainte-Claire Deville, the founder, in 1852, of the French Meteorological Society. In November 2015, Gaston Demarée, a historian of meteorology, and the author, a historian of Okinawa, had the good fortune to unearth the totality of Furet's meteorological material, which consists of observation sheets and letters, in the archives of Météo-France, the French national meteorological service and a distant heir to the French Meteorological Society. The present article is not directly concerned with data analysis proper (see the article by Demarée, Mailier et al.). It nevertheless closely examines the variables recorded in the different tables—daily, monthly, yearly—used by Furet and the additional information contained in the margins. It also aims at presenting the course of Furet's life and scientific education, which singled him out among fellow missionaries, and the social context of his observations. His research interests on Okinawa were actually far from being limited to meteorology, even to the point of earning him criticism from his superior for an excessive commitment to science. They ranged in scope from the natural sciences to the description of the inhabitants' lives. During his six-year stay on Okinawa, Furet corresponded with several important scientific institutions and learned societies. The ten or so articles he published in their journals deal with the geology, fossils—for the study of which he is also recognized as a pioneer—and natural resources of Okinawa, as well as with its culture, history and language. The present article also provides a full list of the typhoons or tropical storms, along with elements of description, that have been recorded by the missionaries who resided on Okinawa between May 1844, when the first missionary set foot on the island, and October 1862, when Furet's departure for Japan put an end to the missionary presence for decades.

  • (avec G. R. Demarée, P. Mailier) The Atmospheric Pressure Observations 1856-1858 by Father Louis Furet, at Naha, Japan 那覇(1856-1858年)におけるフュレ神父の気圧観測 (p. 513-529)

Father Louis Théodore Furet (1816-1900) was a missionary of the Société des Missions étrangères de Paris (Paris Foreign Missions Society) who was posted in the Far East from 1853 to 1869. The discovery of his manuscript of meteorological observations undertaken at Naha, Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands, Japan, opens up new perspectives on the historical climatology of 19th century Japan. Furet arrived at Naha (spelled Nafa in the 19th century literature), the main port of Okinawa, on 26 February 1855. From December 1856 to September 1858, he carried out meteorological observations five times a day: at 6 and 10 am, 1, 4 and 10 pm. The hydrological engineer Alexandre Delamarche (1815-1884) calibrated the meteorological instruments entrusted to Father Furet by the French Dépôt de la Marine. The observations were carried out following the meteorological procedures in use in France in the 1850s. The atmospheric pressure data are given by the barometer readings, the barometer-temperature readings and the computed temperature-corrected atmospheric pressure. The pressure data are controlled and corrected, where necessary, using the Delcros and Haeghens formula which was in use in the 1850s. The historical atmospheric pressure observations are compared to the present-day long-term averages at Naha. During his observation period a typhoon was witnessed by Father Louis Furet on 18 May 1857. Other low atmospheric pressure observations probably correspond to extra-tropical storms. In such an event, the Dutch ship van Bosse was wrecked near the island Tarama but the captain, his wife and the whole crew survived. They were helped by the inhabitants of the island and were later transferred to Naha, Okinawa, where they met the three French missionaries and finally got a passage from the Dutch trading post at Decima to Batavia (present-day Jakarta).