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Masao Oita Insect Collection

Catalogue of the Masao Oita Insect Collection, The University Museum, The University of Tokyo

Masaya Yago1, Yulina Kato2, Hayato Ito3, Katsuhiro Awano4, Shuhei Niitsu1, Hajime Matsubara1, Yasuhiro Ito1 & Hideki Endo1

1) The University Museum, The University of Tokyo, 7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, 113-0033 Japan

2) Department of Chemical and Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science, Japan Woman's University, 2-8-1 Mejirodai, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, 112-8681 Japan

3) Department of Agriculture, School of Agriculture, Meiji University, 1-1-1 Mita, Tama-ku, Kawasaki City, Kanagawa, 214-8571 Japan

4) Department of Forest Science, Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences, The University of Tokyo, 1-1-1 Yayoi, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, 113-8657 Japan


⇒ Image Gallery
Mr Masao Oita was born on November 9, 1936 in Tokyo as the third son of Shuzo Tsuchikawa, and was adopted by Keikichi Oita who is the older brother of his father. After graduation from Tokyo University of Agriculture in 1959, he joined the "Oita Shuzo" sake brewery located in Hida-Takayama, Gifu Pref. as the successor to his adoptive father. He took over the presidency in 1972 when his adoptive father passed away. While engaged in the brewing industry, he became absorbed in the collection of bird specimens and bird watching, and opened a private bird museum, “Oita Yacho-kan”, in 1974. Subsequently, he acted as president of Hida block in the Gifu Pref. branch of the Wild Bird Society of Japan, and contributed to the development of the study of birds (Kobayashi & Yamazaki, 2012).

From a young age Masao frequently accompanied his adoptive father, Keikichi, who was a famous bird researcher. These experiences served as a trigger for his interest in birds. Mr Keikichi Oita (January 9, 1902 - January 22, 1972) was born in Takayama, Gifu Pref. as the second son of Mr Souzaemon Tsuchikawa, and adopted into Oita's family at the age of 15. He became interested in wild birds during his childhood and studied under Mr Magojiro Kawaguchi who was a pioneer researcher in the ecology of Japanese birds. He published papers on the ecology and catalogues of many wild birds in the Hida-Takayama area (Oita, 1956, 1962, 1967, 1986; Fujiwara, 1986). He has been rewarded for his achievements in the conservation of wild birds, and has received not only "The Minister's Award” from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry but also awards from Takayama City, the Ornithological Society of Japan and the Japanese Society for Preservation of Birds (Editorial board of Ornithological Society of Japan, 1972; Kobayashi & Yamazaki, 2012).

In 1974, Masao opened a bird museum, “Oita Yacho-kan”, located next to his sake brewery, and exhibited many bird specimens collected by him and his adoptive father. This museum also served as a major base for the watching and conservation of wild birds in the Hida-Takayama area (Fujiwara, 1986). The main content of the collection is about 500 specimens of wild birds collected in the Hida-Takayama area over a period of more than 70 years, from 1920 into the 1990’s. Most of these specimens came from birds that had been killed in accidents. This collection also includes other animals, such as mammals and insects from the Hida-Takayama area. This means that the museum has served as a local natural history museum. In addition, the "Oita Shuzo", which Masao manages, is a sake brewery with a history spanning over 300 years. This brewery is known as the original producer of a famous sake, “Onikoroshi”. Masao is also a local dignitary in the Hida-Takayama area: he held the presidency of the Gifu prefectural federation of sake brewery unions, and acted as the DJ and director of a radio program for about ten years.

The bird museum "Oita Yacho-kan" was closed in 2008 coinciding with the moving of the sake brewery. The Oita collection was donated to the following three institutions in that year: Abiko City Museum of Birds (45 bird specimens), Yamashina Institute for Ornithology (207 bird specimens) and The University Museum, The University of Tokyo. Many insect specimens, together with about 300 bird specimens, and several mammals were donated to the latter museum.

The Oita insect collection contains 898 specimens of butterflies and three specimens of ladybird beetles, arranged in 24 cabinets. The majority of the specimens were captured in the Hida-Takayama area in the 1970's, and the remaining specimens were from Hokkaido, Tokyo, Ryukyu Islands, Taiwan, etc. Moreover, most of the butterfly specimens were collected by Mr Yoshikazu Asano living in Takayama City. Some were collected by Mr Shinya Nishida, who is the author of a butterfly book “Butterflies of Gifu Prefecture”, and collected by Mr Hiroshi Ono to whom the specific name of a lycaenid butterfly, Japonica onoi, was dedicated. This collection also includes precious specimens of endangered species, such as Luehdorfia japonica, Phengaris teleius and Melitaea ambigua (including a gynandromorph).

The University Museum, The University of Tokyo, is currently data-basing all insect collections and making them available through a series of publications as well as on the Internet. The "Catalogue of the Masao Oita Collection" is included as part of this project, and we decided to publish the "insect part" of the collection in the "Material Reports" series and website of the university museum because the data-basing of the insect part has been completed. The specific classification of the catalogue follows mainly Inomata et al. (2013). We hope that this information will not only contribute to various scientific fields such as taxonomy, morphology, biogeography, conservation biology and local history, but also highlight the significance of scientific specimens and museum collections to the public.

⇒ Specimen List


We express our sincere thanks to Mr Masao Oita for donating his valuable insect collection to The University Museum, The University of Tokyo. Special thanks go to Prof. Mark Williams for perusing the manuscript. We also would like to express our thanks to Dr Tsuyoshi Yamazaki and Mr Tadao Ichita for providing valuable information and Mr Kazushi Harada for editing the manuscript.


  • Editorial board of the Ornithological Society of Japan, 1972. Obituary on Mr Keikichi Oita. Tori, 21 (91/92): 380.
  • Fujiwara, E., 1986. Kaisetsu: Hida no Tori Zatsuwa (Commentary: Varied topics of birds in Hida). Zenshu - Nihon Yacho Ki (Collected edition - Accounts of wild birds in Japan), 11: 389-392. Kodansha, Tokyo.
  • Inomata, T., Uémura, Y., Yago, M., Jinbo, U. & Ueda, K., 2013. Catalogue of the Insects of Japan, 7 (1). Lepidoptera (Hesperioidea - Papilionoidea). Touka Shobo, Fukuoka.
  • Kobayashi, S. & Yamazaki, T., 2012. Catalogue of the Keikichi Oita and Masao Oita collection. - Donated specimens of the Yamashina Institute for birds -. Journal of the Yamashina Institute for Ornithology, 43: 205-221.
  • Oita, K., 1953. Two topics of the Mandarin Duck. Yacho (Wild Bird), 18 (5): 31.
  • Oita, K., 1956. Catalogue of birds in Shiroyama Park, Takayama City. Self-publishing, Takayama.
  • Oita, K., 1962. Catalogue of birds in the Northern Alps, Japan. Self-publishing, Takayama.
  • Oita, K., 1967. Catalogue of birds around Takayama City. Self-publishing, Takayama.
  • Oita, K., 1986. Hida no Tori Zatsuwa (Varied topics of birds in Hida). Zenshu - Nihon Yacho Ki (Collected edition - Accounts of wild birds in Japan), 11: 171-271. Kodansha, Tokyo.