Shinto Priests Collected Almost Seven Centuries of Climate Data
Paraphrased from the Smithsonian Magazine, April 2016.
Shinto priests believe the male god Takeminakata crosses Lake Suwa to visit the female god Yasakatome every winter. When the waters freeze, the priests celebrate and conduct a purification ritual. The priests kept records of this event beginning in 1443, inadvertently creating what is probably the world's oldest ongoing documentation of climatic history.
A study published recently in Nature shows that the annual freeze date of Lake Suwa changed very slowly—moving roughly 0.19 days earlier each decade, for several hundred years until the Industrial Revolution. Once the Industrial Revolution began the lake's freeze date began moving earlier by about 4.6 days each decade.
Modern Shinto Priests
Turn of the century Shinto Priests
--Contributed by ChrisSearles