The National Astronomical Observatory of Japan promotes the development of astronomy, astrophysics, and the related fields of science
The National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ), the national center of astronomical research in Japan, has the most advanced observing facilities in the world. As an Inter-University Research Institute, we promote the open use of these facilities among researchers throughout Japan, as well as encourage flexible international cooperation. NAOJ aims to promote the development of astronomy, astrophysics, and the related fields of science.
* To be innovators striving to solve the mysteries of the Universe.
* To develop and construct large-scale cutting-edge astronomical research facilities and promote their open access aiming to expand our intellectual horizons.
* To contribute to the development of astronomy as a world leading research institute by making the best use of a wide variety of large-scale facilities.
* To bring benefits to society through astronomy public outreach.
* To explore the unknown Universe and provide new insight into astronomy.
* To make our research outcomes widely known to society and pass on our dreams to future generations.
* To mentor next-generation researchers for their role on the world-stage.
In early Japanese history, astronomical observations were sporadic and limited in scope. The first continuous, methodical celestial observations began in 1782 at Asakusa Observatory through the work of the Tenmonkata (Official Astronomer) under the direction of the Shogun. In the latter part of the Nineteenth Century, an observatory for student observations was established in Hongo Campus of the University of Tokyo, and the Tokyo Astronomical Observatory was established in Azabu, Minato-ku, in 1888. The astronomical observatory was moved to Mitaka in 1924.
In the beginning, the main task of the astronomical observatory was to observe the stars in order to determine longitude and latitude, calculate the calendar, and determine the correct time. These were started as national projects in the Meiji era, and our observatory continues to fulfil these functions to this day.
In 1988, the Tokyo Astronomical Observatory was reorganised into the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, together with the Latitude Observatory in Mizusawa and others. For a time the observatory was under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education, Science, Sports and Culture (the Ministry of Education) which was reorganised to be the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Sciences and Technology (MEXT). Finally the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) was incorporated as the Inter-University Research Institute Corporation, National Institutes of Natural Sciences, National Astronomical Observatory of Japan on April 1, 2004.
NAOJ’s parent organisation, the National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS), consists of five inter-university research institutes: the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ), the National Institute for Fusion Sciences (NIFS), the National Institute for Basic Biology (NIBB), the National Institute for Physiological Sciences (NIPS), and the Institute for Molecular Science (IMS). As a global research center in the field of natural science promoting international and advanced research, NINS provides joint research and collaborative research for universities and other researchers all over the country. The result of this collaborative research contributes to strengthening Japanese research capabilities.