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Kojiro Shiraishi Insect Collection. Odonata

Catalogue of the Kojiro Shiraishi Insect Collection, The University Museum, The University of Tokyo
- Odonata -

Shin-ichi Suda1, Yuki Sugiura2, Katsuhiro Awano3, Yulina Kato4, Hayato Ito5, Yasuhiro Ito6 & Masaya Yago6

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

2) Major in Veterinary Medical Sciences, Faculty of Agriculture, The University of Tokyo, 1-1-1 Yayoi, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, 113-8657 Japan

3) 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

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

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

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


⇒ Image Gallery
Shiraishi Rhinocypha

The late Mr. Kojiro Shiraishi was born on August 11, 1941 in Tokyo. He was interested in insects when he was a child, and started researching dragonflies whilst in high school. From his school days he not only studied under Dr. Shoziro Asahina (National Institute of Health), who was an authority on Odonata, but also became one of the founders of the Japanese Society for Odonatology, which was established in 1957. The dragonfly specimens in his collection were collected from all over Japan, and he collected almost all of the Japanese dragonfly species and subspecies. Shiraishi restricted his collecting to the minimum number of specimens necessary. In 1983, he established, in conjunction with Mr. Hajime Ishikara, Mr. Yutaka Arai and Mr. Kazuo Matsuki, "The Dragonfly Council of Kanto District" to promote dragonfly research and information exchange among researchers and enthusiasts. In 1989, he renovated the second floor of his house in Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku, and constructed the Peace and Dragonfly Museum, Tokyo, which was opened for free admission two days a month. It was said that the establishing of this museum was instigated by his wife, and that the exhibition was supervised by Dr Asahina in the reception of this museum. He also monitored dragonflies at the "Ikebukuro-no-mori" ward park near his home and conducted conservation management activities such as eradication of Red swamp crayfish, an invasive alien species. Shiraishi died from cancer at the age of 69 on September, 2010. The donation of his collection to The University of Tokyo was made possible by his wife on December 3, 2010.

The Mr. Shiraishi dragonfly collection includes many precious specimens in the following three themes:

1) Specimens of dragonflies from the Tokyo metropolitan area and its surroundings, 1950s-1960s These specimens were collected in the last age when there were many good nature habitats. In particular, Ekoda of Nerima-ku and its surroundings, where he often collected dragonflies, were the same sites studied by Mr. Teiichi Okumura in the 1920s (Okumura, 1928; Shiraishi, 1958). Therefore, the specimens from this area in the Shiraishi collection are very important in documenting historical changes of dragonflies in Tokyo.

2) Specimens of newly recorded or little known dragonflies from Saitama Pref., 1950s Under the guidance of Dr Asahina, he researched the dragonfly fauna of Saitama Pref., and reported many new discoveries. This achievement is well known in the history of Japanese Odonatology. The specimens collected comprise an extremely valuable resource for taxonomic and historical studies.

3) Specimens of dragonflies endemic to Ogasawara Islands, 1983-1984 or later Under permission of relevant organizations, he investigated the dragonflies in Ogasawara Islands as part of the Third Basic Survey of the Natural Environment by the Environmental Agency, Japan. The specimens and documents collected were included in his collection (Environmental Agency, Japan, 1988; Karube, 2004; Shiraishi, 2009). Although many endemic dragonfly species are distributed in the ocean islands, almost all endemic dragonflies from Chichijima and Hahajima Islands are now extinct due to predation by an introduced lizard, Green Anole (Anolis carolinensis). Therefore, it is now impossible to obtain additional specimens of these endemic species from the two islands; hence, the historical material is of immense scientific importance.

The University Museum, The University of Tokyo, is currently data basing all insect collections and making them available to the public. As part of this project, we have compiled a list of the Odonata in the Shiraishi collection (Suda et al., 2013), which is also published in the bulletin series of the university museum. This catalogue of the Odonata contains 885 specimens arranged in 32 cabinets. The specific classification and identification of the catalogue follow mainly Ozono et al. (2012), and also Inoue & Hamada (1985) and Sugimura et al. (1999). In his collection, collecting localities on the specimen labels (especially those in Saitama Pref.) often indicate the nearest railway station rather than the precise research site. The main reason for this is because he generally investigated and collected along railway lines. The notation system is characteristic of Shiraishi who had worked as a motorman of the Seibu Railway. In this catalogue, we show the correct research sites in cases where collecting localities could be ascertained from interviews before his death or from notes on his topographic maps. For site collection details, refer to the supplement "Re-examination of collecting localities in the Kojiro Shiraishi Insect Collection, The University Museum, The University of Tokyo" at the end of this book.


We express our sincere thanks to Mrs. Sumiko Shiraishi (Saitama) for donating the Mr. Kojiro Shiraishi collection to The University Museum, The University of Tokyo. We are indebted to Mr. Takashi Kakinuma (Tokyo) for providing a photograph of the late Mr. Shiraishi. Special thanks go to Dr Michael F. Braby (Australia) for looking over the manuscript. We also would like to express our thanks to Mr. Kenichi Watanabe, Mr. Shigeki Wada, Mr. Hajime Ishikawa and Mr. Kazuo Matsuki (The Japanese Society for Odonatology) for their valuable informational inputs. This database was supported in part by a Grant-in-Aid for Publication of Scientific Research Results (No. 248059) from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.


  • Environmental Agency, Japan (ed.), 1988. The Third Basic Survey of the Natural Environment. Research report of animal and plant distribution - Insects (Odonata). Environmental Agency, Tokyo.
  • Hamada, Y. & Inoue, K., 1985. The Dragonflies of Japan in colour. Kodansha, Tokyo
  • Karube, H., 2004. The present situation of the dragonflies in the Ogasawara Islands -When and why have they declined?-. Research Report of the Kanagawa Prefectural Museum, Natural History, (12): 31-45.
  • Okumura, T., 1928. Dragonflies collected in Ekoda and its surroundings, Tokyo. Kontyû, 2 (4): 237-241.
  • Ozono, A., Kawashima, I. & Futahashi, R., 2012. Nature Guide, Dragonflies of Japan. Bun-ichi Co., Ltd., Tokyo
  • Shiraishi, K., 1958. Dragonflies from Ekoda area, Tokyo. TOMBO, 1 (1): 6-7.
  • Shiraishi, K., 1958. Series - Tales of times now past in dragonflies 3. A night of fear - and then to paradise. Pterobosca, (15A): 10-11.
  • Suda, S., Sugiura, Y., Awano, K., Kato, Y., Ito, H., Ito, Y. & Yago, M., 2013. Catalogue of the Kojiro Shiraishi Insect Collection, The University Museum, The University of Tokyo - Odonata -. Museum database of The University Museum, The University of Tokyo. (/DDoubutu/shiraishi/jp/index.php).
  • Sugimura, M., Ishida, S., Kojima, K., Ishida, K. & Aoki, T., 1999. Dragonflies of the Japanese Archipelago in Color. Hokkaido University Press, Sapporo.