Publications of the Institute for Medieval Japanese Studies
Image Amamonzeki, A Hidden Heritage: Treasures of the Japanese Imperial Convents
Editor: Patricia Fister, et al.
Catalogue from the exhibition held at the University Art Museum, Tokyo University of the Arts, Ueno Park, Tokyo, April 14–June 14, 2009.
9"x11" softback; 384 pages; full color, fully bilingual English and Japanese

This exhibition is the culmination of more than a decade of research and restoration work carried out in Kyoto and Nara by the Chūsei Nihon Kenkyūjo directed by Barbara Ruch and with a research team led by chief curator Patricia Fister, and including Monica Bethe, and numerous Japanese professionals.

This bilingual catalogue illustrates in full color all 194 exhibited items and includes detailed essays and labels by eleven scholars. It is the first book in any language to give the histories of all 13 remaining Japanese Imperial Buddhist Convents (Amamonzeki jiin) and the biographies of their founding abbesses and later restoration abbesses.

These elite women, who date from the 7th century through the Edo period, are represented by a wide range of religious and secular works they themselves created or are associated with them. New discoveries include kesa belonging to 13th-century abbesses. Never-before-made-public calligraphed, painted, and sculptured works by these nuns are included, as are a wide range of textiles made into altar cloths and hangings that are transformations from robes and Noh costumes brought to the convents by these women or gifted from their families. The pre-20th-century Chūgūji Imperial Convent altar was reconstructed in the exhibition as was the Jōdan no ma royal reception suite from Reikanji Imperial Convent. Numerous portraits of abbesses are shown for the first time.

Amamonzeki, A Hidden Heritage: Treasures of the Japanese Imperial Convents is distributed by Paragon Book Gallery. To purchase a copy, please contact them at 1-800-552-6657 or visit

Image In Iris Fields: Remembrances and Poetry
by Abbess Kasanoin Jikun

Editors: Barbara Ruch and Katsura Michiyo
Translators: Janine Beichman (Poetry) and Beth Cary (Prose). Tankosha, Kyoto, 2009.
A-5 Hardback, ISBN 978-4-473-03569-1, 280 pp., color plates, black and white plates.

In Iris Fields is a compilation of essays and poems by an extraordinary woman of aristocratic lineage, Abbess Kasanoin Jikun (1910-2006), who shares her childhood memories, her nunhood, her passion for poetry, and delectable tales of her remarkable friends and relations, from court to convent. Full of human insights and humor, her writings bring to life a Japan long gone and reveal a history of Kyoto and Japan not to be found in textbooks.

Her Japanese essays first appeared sporadically over many years in the tea journal Wafu under the on-going title Ayamegusa Nikki (Iris Memoranda) and are published in their entirety all together here for the first time and with English translations. The poems selected for inclusion and translation come from her two published poetry collections, Ayamegusa (A Flush of Irises) and Yumegatari (Dream Tales). This bilingual edition includes many photographs that document her life.

In Iris Fields is distributed by Paragon Book Gallery. To purchase a copy, please contact them at 1-800-552-6657 or visit

Image Engendering Faith:
Women and Buddhism in Premodern Japan

Editor: Barbara Ruch

Cloth bound, Fully illustrated in color and black and white
ISBN 1-929280-15-7, lxxviii, 706 pp, 98 plates. Michigan Monograph Series in Japanese Studies, No. 43, 2002, Center for Japanese Studies, the Univ. of Michigan.

A monumental and pioneering collection of studies on women and Buddhism in Japan that opens up a sorely neglected area of Japanese cultural history and brings research on women and Buddhism to the English-reading audience for the first time. Richly illustrated. A comprehensive glossary of kanji. Must reading for students and scholars of premodern Japanese history, culture, and religion.

$69.00 plus shipping + handling

Art by Buddhist Nuns:
Treasures from the Imperial Convents of Japan

Author: Patricia Fister
ISBN 0-9741103-0-2, 99 pp. Institute for Medieval Japanese Studies.

This bilingual (Japanese and English) catalogue in full color from the breakthrough exhibition curated by Prof. Patricia Fister at the Nomura Museum in Kyoto, April 22 to May 18, 2003, covers religious works of art, painting, calligraphy, statues and various religious artifacts, made by Edo period abbesses, ten of whom were monzeki (imperial princess-nuns).

$18.00 plus shipping + handling

Image Days of Discipline and Grace:
Treasures from the Imperial Buddhist Convents of Kyoto

Bilingual, 44 pp, color exhibition catalog.

This unprecedented November 1998 Columbia University exhibition curated by Maribeth Graybill and Sadako Ohki presented the culture of amamonzeki jiin (Imperial Buddhist Convents) to the public for the first time. Calligraphy, ritual objects and portraits of abbesses never before exhibited were on view as well as furnishings related to the daily lives of Japanese Buddhist nuns, including books, games and utensils created over the centuries by the nuns themselves. An exact replica of the thirteenth-century chinso portrait statue of Abbess Mugai Nyodai, the original of which has been designated an "Important Cultural Treasure" was loaned to the exhibition from Kanagawa Prefectural Kanazawa Bunko Museum.

$10.00 plus shipping + handling

Image Seasons of Sacred Celebration:
Flowers and Poetry from an Imperial Convent

Editor: Amy V. Heinrich; Contributors: Sadako Ohki and Herschel Miller. Institute for Medieval Japanese Studies and Floating World Editions.

This 113-page full color bilingual book shares with the public for the first time the unique shikishi and tanzaku poetry cards preserved for centuries in Daishoji Imperial Convent in Kyoto.

$20.00 plus shipping + handling

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