The Japanese connection

Akio Yanai
Why a Japanese professor studies ‘Croatian’ winds?

The article was originally published in ANA sailing school newsletter.

Sailing is an ancient skill. So is the knowledge about the wind and the sea. We can say that it is written in the genetic code of the mankind. That knowledge was transferred from one generation to next and from one nation to another long before modern weather forecasts and satellites. The world is, obviously, shrinking due to technology progress, and people are more and more alienated, but there are some forgotten connections that sometimes appear through the crevice of our virtual reality.

To prove existence of those connections, between the people of Japan and Croatia, is a mission of Akio Yanai, PhD, from University of Musashina in Tokio. And ANA sailing school is helping him to do so.

Accidental ethnologist

This ‘wind doctor’, meteorologist and oceanographer, and accidental ethnologist, wants to prove that all nations, regardless of their cultural background, use the same system for defining the terms regarding weather phenomena at sea, especially winds. He will try to prove his premise while sailing along the Adriatic coast and by visiting the Faculty of Science in Zagreb. He found the ground for his premise while studying in Japan and South Corea, and he wants to check if it can be applied throughout the world.

He concluded that people give names to the winds not only based on a direction they blow from, but also by their subjective feeling of the character of the wind. For instance, north-eastern wind is called Bura (It. – Bora) in Croatia, it is a cold wind and it blows from the shore. The sky is usually clear but it can be a ‘dark’ one.

Besides that, some winds get the appendix to their name given the time of the year in which they usually appear, so in Croatia we have three March Buras, or by some other weather phenomenon characteristic for that period of year. Also, there are some micro local variations in the names of the winds that are consequence of the unique local characteristics and they should be considered for the forecast in that area.

Alternative system

“My goal is to improve our understanding of natural phenomena, and the understanding of people, trough an alternative system of forecast. There is a vast pool of knowledge in local stories and terms, which modern science doesn’t take into consideration. That’s why I want to create an alternative system which could be complement to the modern science and allow it to be more precise”, says the professor.

He has chosen Croatia because he looked for a place culturally totally different from Japan and South Corea. He looked for a country with a simple meteorological pattern, similar to those of the Japan sea and that is the Adriatic.

My conclusion from this story would be a question actually. I wonder why it is so hard for people to understand that we are all the same and connected, when it is already written in the wind? What do you think?


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