Taifū [台風(たいふう)](typhoon)

Taifū[台風(たいふう)](typhoon) is a tropical depression with a maximum wind velocity over 17.2 m/s occurring in South China Sea or north-west Pacific Ocean of the northern hemisphere. Taifū swirls in a counterclockwise direction and moves northward under the influence of the rotation of the Earth.

And when Taifū reaches the middle or high latitudes, that moves toward the northeast due to westerlies. Summer Taifū moves slowly because the westerlies blow over the high latitudes and Taifū isn't affected by that so much. But in autumn, Taifū moves quickly because the westerlies move southward.


About 26 Taifūs occur on average per year and of which about 11 make landfall on Japan. They increase from the end of summer to autumn in Japan. Taifūs are hard to approach when the Pacific anticyclone[太平洋高気圧(たいへいようこうきあつ)] on Japan is strong. But the Pacific anticyclone weaken in the end of summer and that becomes unable to prevent Taifūs.

Strong Taifū with heavy rain & storm sometimes causes serious damages such as flood, landslide and collapse of houses. Record-breaking Taifūs such as Kathleen Taifū[カスリーン台風] in 1947, Kanogawa Taifū[狩野川(かのがわ)台風] in 1958 and Ise-wan Taifū[伊勢湾(いせわん)台風] killed many people has been handed down as tragedy.

It is said that a word "Taifū" is derived from "typhoon" in English. Taifū was originally called "Nowaki(Nowake)[野分(のわき or のわけ)]" or "Gufū[颶風(ぐふう)]" in Japan. There are some stories about the origin of "typhoon". They are as follows;
  • That was from "tai fung[大風]" that meant "strong wind" in Fujian Chinese.

  • That was from "tufan" that meant "turn around" in Arabian.

  • That was from the god of wind "Typhon" of Greek mythology.

There are often no clouds in the center part of Taifū because it swirls and the centrifugal force is generated. That part is called "Taifū no Me(eye)[台風の目(め)]" in Japanese. Taifū no Me is also use as a figurative expression. That expresses an important person or object that has a central role in a thing.

Fūjin Raijin-zu Byōbu
"Fūjin Raijin-zu Byōbu(Folding Screens of Wind & Thunder Gods)" by Sōtatsu Tawaraya[俵屋宗達『風神雷神図屏風』(たわらやそうたつ『ふうじんらいじんずびょうぶ』)]

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