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Timescapes: Research Team

"Timing Day and Night: Timescapes in premodern Japan" Research Team at the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Cambridge



Research Group

Dr Brigitte Steger

Dr Brigitte Steger

Principal Investigator

Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese Studies, University of Cambridge; she specializes in the anthropology of daily life of both modern and premodern Japan. Her book manuscript ‘Sleeping through Time: A Cultural History of Sleep in Japan’ is currently under review. She recently published: ‘Landschaften der Zeit: Tages- und Nachtstunden im vormodernen Japan’, Österreichische Forschungsgemeinschaft (eds): Zeit in den Wissenschaften. Wien: Böhlau 2016, 46-83, and co-edited a special issue of KronoScope 17 (Spring 2017), on timescapes in premodern Japan (with Raji Steineck), for which she co-authored the 'Introduction from the guest editors to the special issue "Time in Historic Japan"' (pp. 7-15) and authored an article titled ‘Japanese Historic "timescapes": An Anthropological Approach’ (pp. 37-60).


Dr Angelika Koch

Dr Angelika Koch


Angelika Koch's field of specialization is the cultural history of Edo Japan (1600-1868). She holds an MA in Japanese Studies from the University of Vienna, and a PhD in Japanese Studies from the University of Cambridge. Angelika is interested in time consciousness and time usage among various occupational or social groups in early modern Japan. What role did time play in the everyday life of these people? How did they structure time, and how did time structure their days (and nights)? What time markers did they use? What differences and similarities existed between different groups and social strata? How did this sense of time prepare them (or fail to do so) for the rapid modernization and industrialization that swept the Japanese nation in the second half of the nineteenth century?

Her recent work addresses the question of how economic growth and increasing commercialization impacted time awareness in early modern Japan, seeking to qualify narratives that mainly identify the commodification of time with Japan’s industrialization, modernization and Westernization in the late 19th century, as well as with the dissemination of mechanical clock-time. In her article ‘Nightless Cities: Timing the Pleasure Quarters in Early Modern Japan’ (KronoScope 17/1, 61-93) she presents a case study of the urban pleasure quarters in 18th and 19th century Japan, discussing the sex trade as a significant if rare example of a service ‘paid by the hour’ in early modern Japan. Her article: ‘Ieyasu’s Time: His Clock(s) and their Legacy’, will be published in Tokugawa Ieyasu and his Legacy, edited by Rebekah Clements.


Associated Researchers

Alessandro BianchiDr Alessandro Bianchi
Alessandro Bianchi is a Freer/Sackler Research Fellow at the Smithsonian Institution. He earned his PhD with a dissertation on gesaku writings from the University of Cambridge, under the supervision of Prof Peter Kornicki.

Project title: Specializes in popular literature of the eighteenth century and plans to study literary and artistic texts playing with the concept of time and hours.


Dr Rebekah Clements

Dr Rebekah Clements
Rebekah Clements is a Lecturer in premodern Japanese Studies at Durham University.  She is a specialist in pre-modern Japanese languages and culture, with a focus on the history and literature of the Heian (794-1185) and early modern (1600-1868) periods. She has an MA in Heian literature from Waseda University, Tokyo and a PhD in Japanese Studies from the University of Cambridge.  Rebekah’s first monograph – A Cultural History of Translation in Early Modern Japan (Cambridge University Press, 2015) – considers the Japanese translation of classical Heian, classical Chinese, and European texts. The first scholar to adopt a cultural historical approach that considers the big picture “who” “what” and “why” of translation into Japanese in the early modern period, Rebekah argues that the explosion of vernacular translations from Chinese and older, classical forms of Japanese was an indicator of changing literacy and modes of access to formerly elite texts for scholars and less-educated readers alike. 


Mick DeneckereDr Mick Deneckere
Mick Deneckere is a postdoctoral research at Ghent University. For her PhD at the University of Cambridge, she wrote an intellectual biography of the True Pure Land Buddhist priest Shimaji Mokurai (1838-1911), who opened up debate on the separation of state and religion and on religious freedom in Japan in the 1870s. Her supervisor was Prof Richard Bowring.

Project title: ‘Time’ in early Meiji memorials, diaries and the periodical press: contemporaneous views on the 1873 adoption of the Gregorian calendar and the Western time system.


Dr Yulia Frumer
Assistant Professor in History of Science and Technology, Johns Hopkins University. Project on time-pieces and time-measurements in early nineteenth century Japan.



Dr Philip Garrett
Lecturer in Japanese History, Newcastle University. Philip Garrett is a specialist in medieval Japanese social and institutional history, primarily local land and society in the Kamakura and Nanbokuchō periods. His work concerns the intersection between monastic life and provincial warrior culture in medieval Japan, with a focus on the society of the Shingon temple complex Kōyasan and its surrounding estates. He read for the BA and M.St. in Japanese Studies at Oxford before completing a PhD at Cambridge.


Prof Gerhard Leinss
Professor in Japanese Studies at the Department of Asian and African Studies, Humboldt University, Berlin. From 2010 to 2014 he was Senior Researcher at Cambridge University and Needham Institute; Leverhulme project: ‘Culture and Time: A history of the calendar in Japan’. 


Dr Gergana Petkova

Associate Professor in Japanese Studies at Sophia University, specialising in Japanese folk literature and grammar of premodern Japanese. Her article, 'Night in the Japanese Fairytale' will be published in the journal KronoScope in early 2017.


Prof Katja Schmidtpott
Professor in Modern Japanese History; Free University Berlin. She works on early twentieth century modernisation of time as part of the movement for improvement of daily life, particularly the campaign for the promotion of punctuality and efficiency in Japan after the First World War. She is currently building a research group ‘A social history of Time in modern East Asia’ at FU Berlin. We are planning to organize annual workshops together.


Prof Evelyn Schulz
Professor in Japanese Studies (Literature and Urban Studies); Ludwig-Maximilians University, Munich. She is currently preparing a research project on Phenomena and discourses of deceleration in contemporary Japanese society: cultural and literary perspectives (working title).


Prof Raji C. Steineck
Professor in Japanese Studies (History of Thought); Zuerich University. Prof Steineck is the President of the International Society for the Study of Time (ISST) and has conducted research on concepts of time in medieval Zen Buddhism and on Japanese social theories related to time.

He has co-edited (with Brigitte Steger) a special issue of KronoScope (1/2017), on timescapes in premodern Japan, for which he also authored an article titled ‘Time in Old Japan: In Search of a Paradigm’ (pp. 16-39).


The Research Institute for Time Studies, Yamaguchi University