Seasons of Sacred Celebration

Flowers and Poetry from an Imperial Convent

Institute for Medieval Japanese Studies

Eighteen unusual paintings preserved at Daishoji Imperial Convent in Kyoto—founded in the 14th century and one of the main Rinzai Zen convents in Japan—are here presented for the first time. They include beautiful calligraphic renderings of classical poems from well-known anthologies, with delicate floral illustrations linking each poem to its appropriate season. The anonymous paintings, probably dating from the late 17th century, are unique in format, and offer eloquent testimony to the survival of the aristocratic arts in Edo-period Japan.

The Institute for Medieval Japanese Studies published these rare paintings, with romaji renderings and English translations of both poetry and essays, to commemorate the 700th anniversary of the death of the Zen Abbess Mugai Nyodai (1223¬–98), the first female Rinzai Zen master in Japan. The 27th-generation head of Daishoji Imperial Convent, Abbess Kasanoin Jikun, has contributed a greeting to the present volume, which also includes a foreword by Institute Director Barbara Ruch. The poems have been translated by Herschel Miller and Sadako Ohki, and an essay by the latter explores the relationships among painting, poetry, and calligraphy, their various schools and traditions, and their place in the aristocratic culture of premodern Japan.

The Institute for Medieval Japanese Studies at Columbia University is an international liaison and research center designed primarily to serve European and American scholars, to encourage both individual and collaborative research on all aspects of Japanese civilization relative to the medieval period (primarily, but not exclusively, the Kamakura and Muromachi periods, 1185–1600).

114 pp, 6.5 x 8 , Soft
18 full-color illustrations, bibliography, notes
Japanese art & culture
ISBN: 978-1-891640-35-3