Yasunori Miyosi (1909 - 1995)

Dr. Yasunori Miyosi, Professor Emeritus of St. Catherina Women's Junior College, Hojo, Ehime prefecture, Japan, passed away on 19 April 1995 at the age of 86.
Miyosi was born on 17 April 1909 in a small village called Yoshifuji-mura (now Hiromi-cho), which is located among mountains in the southern part of Ehime prefecture, Shikoku. After graduation from Ehime Shihan-Gakko (= Ehime Teacher's School; now Faculty of Education, Ehime University) in 1929, he taught first at a primary school and after 1933 he worked as a teacher of biology in some high schools in Ehime prefecture until 1966.
He started his career in biology as an ichthyologist in 1933 when he became a teacher in Yawatahama Women's High School, which is located in Yawatahama, the most famous fishery harbor in Shikoku, Japan. During the stay in Yawatahama, he published several papers on taxonomy and fauna of fishes, including a paper describing three new species of cartilaginous fish, one shark Eugaleus hyugaensis (now Hypogaleus hyugaensis) and two rays Dasyatis maculatus [now junior synonym of Taeniura melanospila (Bleeker)] and D. matsubarai. He changed his studies from fish to harvestmen after he was transferred to Matsuyama Women's High School (now Matsuyama-Minami High School), Matsuyama, in 1938, because there was no fishery harbor yielding taxonomically interesting fish. Between 1941 and 1944 he frequently visited Kaza-ana (about 950m in altitude) which is located on the northern slope of Mt. Saragamine (1280m high), south of Matsuyama city, to collect specimens and to make ecological observations on harvestmen. Among these were three species which were described by him: Sabacon pygmaeum, S. satoikioi, and Peltonychia japonica (now Nippononychus japonicus). They were elements of families which had not been known up to then from Japanese Islands. However, he could not continue his study of harvestmen, since Japan was almost entirely cut off from the outside world as World War II progressed and scientific publications from western countries became unavailable.
In 1943, Miyosi changed his subject again to myriapodology. In April 1944 he moved to Tokyo to study the group under veteran myriapodologist, Dr. Yosioki Takakuwa of Tokyo Bunrika University (now Tsukuba University). Takakuwa was the person who succeeded to Dr. K. W. Verhoeff and became a pioneer of Myriapodology in Japan. However, Miyosi was forced, because of the deterioration of Tokyo due to the World War, to leave the city by the end of October 1944. Fortunately for him, Dr. Takakuwa also evacuated to the residence of Takakuwa's relatives living in Matsuyama with his literature on myriapodology. This enabled Miyosi, who had secured a job at Matsuyama Women's High School, to continue his study.
During the war (4 February 1945), Miyosi burned his right hand and lost all the fingers except for the little finger. This accident happened at the charcoal brazier when he visited a munition factory in Imabari city, northern Ehime prefecture, as an attendant of his high school students who were mobilized there. He never surrendered to this adversity and continued to study the taxonomy of Japanese myriapods, especially millipedes, which requires nimble fingered skill in dissecting genital organs. After the war, Dr. Takakuwa recognized Miyosi as his best successor and committed his literature to his care.

Miyosi's first paper on myriapods was a description of a new species of the genus Monographis (now Eudigraphis takakuwai) in 1947, which appeared in "Acta Arachnologica", a journal of arachnology and myriapodology published by the Arachnological Society of East Asia (now Arachnological Society of Japan). Since then he published about 60 papers on myriapods. The most important contribution by him was a series of 26 papers published under the title "Beitrage zur Kenntnis japanischer Myriopoden". These were published between 1951 and 1958 when he was a teacher at Matsuyama-Kita High School. In the series, he described about 50 new species in Japanese and German. Reporting paternal care in a platydesmid millipede, Brachycybe nodulosa (Verhoeff), in 1951 was also important, though it was written only in Japanese and hence it was missed by myriapodologists outside of Japan. On the basis of these contributions, he was urged by Yosioki Takakuwa, Haruo Takashima, and Prof. Tohru Uchida of Hokkaido University to prepare a thesis. The resulting thesis "(▄ber Japanische Diplopoden" was published by the Arachnological Society of East Asia in November 1959 and he received his doctoral degree (Dr. of Science) from Hokkaido University in February 1960, at the age of 51. Dr. Takakuwa murmured Banzai in his sick bed, he was ill at that time and deceased on 9 March 1960 at the age of 88, at the news of Miyosi's successfully passing his doctoral examination. The thesis, unfortunately for all the myriapodologists outside of Japan, was written only in Japanese. None-the-less it has long been a vade-mecum for millipede researchers in Japan.

After he left Matsuyama-Kita High School in 1966, he got a post of professor at St. Catherina Women's Junior College, Hojo city (just north of Matsuyama) and taught biology until his retirement in 1984. After his move to the college, he entirely switched directions of his studies from myriapodology to the flora of Ehime prefecture and adjacent areas in Shikoku. Vascular plants had been his favorite organisms since his graduation from Teacher's School and he had published several short articles and essays on plants since 1941. Although this is a regrettable conversion for the myriapodology circle, no one should blame him when you consider the difficulty in studying tiny and fragile millipedes and centipedes with missing fingers and senile eyes.

His tremendous research efforts and remarkable career have been greatly admired by various researchers in the field of natural history in Japan and serve to influence other myriapodologists and arachnologists, including me.
The myriapodological library which was passed from Dr. Takakuwa, and augmented by Miyosi, has been donated to Hokkaido University through the courtesy of himself and of his wife, Chieko Miyosi. It consists of about 1,200 publications, containing many now-rare reprints, and is provisionally under my care.

Acknowledgments: I thank Prof. Kunio Amaoka, Hokkaido University, who informed me of the present status of fish species described by Miyosi and Mr. James C. Cokendolpher for his assistance with the English text of this obituary.

Notice: I have several surplus reprints of most of Miyosi's articles (in Japanese with German resume that were released under the common title "Beitrage zur Kenntnis japanischer Myriopoden" between 1951 to 1958. They are available upon request. If you are interested, please contact me (e-mail: ntsuru@fed.tottori-u.ac.jp; address: Dept. Biol., Faculty of Education, Tottori Univ., Tottori, 680 Japan).


Nobuo Tsurusaki, April 1996
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