Observation (観察)

Observation means to watch an object carefully to find out its actual condition. To watch its state and record its change. It is important how much detail you can find in its change.

One of the various functions of ruling.

Criminal Policy
In the subject of criminal policy, this word is often used together with the word "protection" to make a word "protective observation" which in fact means probation. Probation means to send the criminals back to community under a special supervision instead of putting them in the facilities such as prisons.

Natural Science

In the field of natural science, observation is to watch an object carefully to derive something from it and it becomes a base of an analysis. Basically, observation is different from experiment in the way that it does not manipulate the object. The occasion such as decomposition or dissection or a more complicated operation such as fixing or coloring might be given in the field of biology, however, this is done purely to watch the inside or the detail of the object and it is still different to experiment in the way that it does not expect the change of the object by that operation.

There are two types of observation - quantitative observation and qualitative observation. Since the sense of human beings is qualitative, quantitative observation is a very important process. Quantitative observation is often especially called "assessment" or "measurement". However, qualitative observation often provides with a very important piece of information as well. See also scientific methods.

In the field of biology, it is important to carefully watch the appearance of the object and its movements. However, it became clear that the important elements of living objects are often in the details which cannot be seen with our naked eyes, therefore a magnifier is an important item when you do an outdoor observation. Also in the field of microorganism, the observation is often done by using a microscope. Whatever the case may be in the field of biology, it is important to feel something from an observation as a starting point of an inspiration.
Drawing is also valued as a method of recording the result of observation,

Science Education

Observation is valued in science education at schools. The observation of living objects which are familiar to us is often included in the curriculum of the lower classes of primary schools through junior high schools. Insect collecting used to be popular as a subject of students' science projects, however, it is not the case anymore; one of the reasons is the direction of education has shifted to emphasize the importance of a close observation of insects rather than a random colleciton of them.

In the social education setting, there are a lot of nature observation meetings or nature observation classes hosted by museums or various nature-related organizations.

Various issues of observation
Many people don't question about the act of observation itself, however, there is a serious issue involved in it.

There is a process called "recognition" of human beings involved in the act of observation. Whoever the observer may be (even an scientist), recognition is a process related to psychology and cranial nerve and there are some issues involved as shown below.

Preconceived idea
Subjective point of view and objective point of view

This issue was also pointed out by Thomas Kuhn. The progress of scientific theories is largely related to the potential problems of the act of recognition.
(See the section of "Paradigm")
"Objectivization" is never simple nor absolute as it is assumed.

Moreover, in the field of biology and social science it has been always known as a matter-of -course that the behavior of the object being observed is affected by the existence of the observer (for example, human beings are aware based on the experiences and the common sense that the behavior of any creatures, human beings and the group of human beings is affected by being observed). However also in the field of physics, "the issue of observation" started being discussed more deeply even at the level of substance since quantum mechanics has been developed, and the concept of "the objective observation" has become unstable from this point of view as well.

The people who observe or review a particular field or phenomenon are sometimes called "watcher". For example, people often call Katsuhiro KURODA (Sankei Newspaper, Seoul Branch Manager) a Korean Watcher, or Toru TAKANARITA calls himself a Washington Watcher.

Among those related to government are economy watchers, who can include retailers, manufacturers or service providers such as golf course owners and taxi drivers; the government (the Cabinet Office) conducts the Economic Watchers Survey based on their economic assessments. There are also the Central Food Labeling Watchers (Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries), who make sure there are no misleading food labeling.

The example that is similar to these is the On-the-road Watchers Institute, which observes the social phenomena, manners and customs etc which are familiar to us. See also the section of the study of modern social phenomena about this topic.

[Original Japanese]