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Time in Medieval Japan

Research Team

Foto Raji



Prof. Dr. Raji C. Steineck

Principal Investigator

Professional Profile

“I am a philosopher and philologist, currently working as a professor of Japanology at the University of Zurich. Teenage confusion in the rural backlands of Bavaria sparked my interest in Zen, and I went on to study philosophy, Japanology, and musicology in Bonn and Kyoto. After graduating with an M.A. in Japanology and a Dr. phil. in philosophy in Bonn, I returned to Kyoto with a Humboldt and JSPS grant to write a book about the body-mind problem in Dōgen, the founder of the Sōtō school of Zen Buddhism in Japan. Later, I worked on a project concerned with bioethical conflicts in contemporary Japan and held a temporary position as professor of Japanese intellectual history in Frankfurt in 2007-2008. During that period, I also became involved in the International Society for the Study of Time (ISST). I came to Zurich in 2008 and decided to combine my philosophical and philological interests. Since then, I dedicate my research efforts to further developing the theory of symbolic forms (established by Ernst Cassirer) by bringing it into conversation with Japanese cultural history. Our research on time in medieval Japan is an essential part of that project, as time is a category fundamental to all symbolic forms.”


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Prof. Dr. Simone Müller

Research Associate

Professional Profile

“I am a senior lecturer of Japanese studies and a research associate of the ERC Advanced Grant Project “Time in Medieval Japan” at the University of Zurich. I studied Japanology, Sinology, and Philosophy at the University of Zurich, at Tōkyō University of Foreign Studies and Dōshisha University, and received my Ph.D. and postdoctoral degree (habilitation) in Japanology at the University of Zurich. My research interests are in the field of Japanese literature and intellectual history. Within the ERC Advanced Grant Project “Time in Medieval Japan” I probe into time and temporality at the medieval court. I am notably interested in how at the imperial court space and time was coordinated and how everyday actions were temporally structured. By way of an analysis of the daily routine at the imperial court, it can be shown how the medieval court functioned as an integral system in which time and space interweaved to form a dense and refined mechanism (like a "clockwork"). Moreover, I am also interested in the interrelation between temporal processes (etiquette) at the court and power as well as the courtiers gendered subjective and emotional attitude towards time (that also enable to encode social critique) such as ennui, idleness, melancholia, and nostalgia.”


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Dr. Daniela Tan

Research Associate

Professional Profile

“I am a lecturer and associate researcher in the department of Japanese Studies at the Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies of Zurich University. I have completed my studies focusing on Japanese literature in Zurich, Kyōto, and Ōsaka, and earned my Ph.D. at Zurich University with a study of the 20th-century writer Ōba Minako. My primary research field is contemporary Japanese literature, with an emphasis on writing the nuclear (A-Bomb, atomic energy) and current tendencies within Japanese literature, such as the question of Heisei literature. I teach classes on literature and religions in Japan. For the project Time in Medieval Japan TIMEJ, I investigate on menstruation from the perspective of medical, religious and literary source texts. In demonstrating the knowledge of physical processes and their understanding, my research aims to showcase the medieval view of body time and how women dealt with it practically.”

Although people have called me ikinari chūsei no Tan (suddenly into medieval studies-Tan) in the beginning, I am now on good terms with my sources and the methodological techniques for the work with medieval texts.


Stefania Lottanti von Mandach



Dr. Stefania Lottanti von Mandach

Research Associate

Professional Profile

“I am a research fellow with TIMEJ's module 'Markets' and a lecturer at the University of St.Gallen, Switzerland.

I studied Japanese Studies, Business Economics and Social and Economic History at the University of Zurich and Kyoto University of Foreign Studies. I received my Ph.D. in 2010 from the University of Zurich. After graduating in 1999, I worked in the private sector for ten years, where I had the opportunity to deal with various firms in Europe, Japan and Korea and gain fascinating insights into different business cultures. This sparked my interest in exploring firm and labor market-related topics scientifically, both in modern and pre-modern Japan, which eventually led me back to university.

Joining the TIMEJ-project offers a unique and exciting opportunity to go even further back in time and study the evolving religious economy of Buddhist organizations in medieval Japan."


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Dr. oec. Georg Blind

Research Associate

Professional Profile

“I am a senior research fellow with TIMEJ's module "markets" and a lecturer at the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland.

Combining different and possibly competing perspectives on a research topic has always been the primary motivation of my research. An economist by training (St. Gallen University, 2004), I later obtained an MA in Japanese Studies (Heidelberg University, 2008), and a Ph.D. in Economics (Hohenheim University, 2015). While most of my research to date is on the contemporary Japanese economy with research stints at Kyoto University (2008/09) and The University of Tokyo (2016/17), joining TIMEJ comes as a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to delve into the unknown grounds of economic thought of the Japanese middle ages.

In my research, I have specialized in the study of economic change and heterogeneity including a piece on economic methodology (with Andreas Pyka, Journal of Evolutionary Economics, 2014). Eventually, the subjects of my research with TIMEJ are closely related to my earlier research where I worked on labour, finance, and trade in contemporary Japan. It is thrilling to look into the same phenomena as they happened 500 to 700 years earlier.”


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Alexandra Ciorciaro, M.A.

PhD Student

Professional Profile

“I am a Ph.D. student in Japanese Philology at the University of Zurich, where I completed my previous degrees as well. Initially, I took up this topic due to an interest in Japanese pop culture, and through my studies, I also have discovered an enthusiasm for history, philosophy and (classical) literary studies. My research on TIMEJ touches on most of these subjects in one way or another. I am especially excited to look into text genres unfamiliar to me and decipher text documents that have received little attention from western scholars.

Besides my research, I am also working with my colleague Melissa and the IT department to showcase the TIMEJ project on this website."


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Vroni Ammann, lic. phil.

PhD Student

Professional Profile

“I started my life in Eastern Switzerland, right at the border to Austria and close to Germany. After graduating from the gymnasium, I moved to Zurich without further ado, knowing that this city would grant me the opportunities I was looking for. The start of my academic career was turbulent, and after detours to Biology and Human Medicine, I found inspiration in Japanese studies, Chinese studies, as well as Art history of East Asia. My interests other than the now developing one in Japanese history or language are questions regarding animal rights or modern Japanese and Chinese life. While studying Japan, I found the lived culture of incense interesting and worth to be brought to Switzerland. Therefore my husband Karl and I decided to import Japanese incense sticks, an activity which continues until today. Rather than the strict regulations of kôdô or the beautiful accessories used in this ceremony, it is the ephemeral aspect of non-visuality of fragrance which lingers in my consciousness, and which finally inspired me to delve into the adventure of a doctoral thesis. In the context of the TIMEJ project, I am examining the temporality of trade and the use of incense in medieval Japan.”


Raji C. Steineck


Etienne A. F. Staehelin, M.A.

PhD Student

Professional Profile

“After developing a deep fascination for Japan in my teenage years, I took up reading Japanese philology in Zürich and Tōkyō. Figuring out with what to combine Japanese Studies was a bit of a struggle: after a brief and ill-informed stint in economics, I decided to concentrate my studies on languages and literature, choosing contemporary Chinese, English literature, and gender studies as minors. During my master‘s programme, I started focusing more and more on pre-modern sources. For example, I wrote a paper on an 11th-century Japanese text on landscape gardening. The next step in this development was my master‘s thesis, in which I translated and annotated a fascicle of a 13th-century Zen-Buddhist text by Dōgen Zenji. This interest in Japanese Sōtō-Zen has taken a persistent hold of me and has thus also become the topic of my doctoral thesis. However, whereas in my master‘s thesis I focused on the philological work of translating and making sense of one of Dōgen‘s texts, in my dissertation, I aim to make use of a more philosophical approach and intend to compare Dōgen‘s conception of time to other contemporary masters' understanding of the phenomenon of time.”

Weiterführende Informationen

Latest conference:

TIMEJ Online Conference 2021 

August 18–20th 2021

International Society for the Study of Time


Yamaguchi University Research Institute for the Study of Time


Read more about our joint coference of 2018 here.

Time in Medieval Japan

Prof. Dr. Raji C. Steineck


Time in Medieval Japan (TIMEJ) is a research project of the Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies of the University of Zurich.

It is funded by the  European Research Council (ERC) with an Advanced Grant under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No 741166)

Read about the outline of the project on the official CORDIS Webpage

Read more about the TIMEJ-Artwork