4th-5th November 2022

Seasonal Imagery in Japanese Language, Culture and Literature

To view or download the Call for Papers in PDF, click here

Seasonal imagery is omnipresent in many aspects of Japanese life and culture. Hanami and momijigari have become central elements in Japanese soft culture and attract numerous viewers both from Japan and abroad. The sensitivity to the fleeting nature of seasons and by association of life, is an important part of Shintō and Buddhism. The focus on the cycles of the Earth and on the agrarian calendar has been manifested in the seasonal festivals and activities. Japanese architecture also reflects this closeness to nature. The shindenstructure that emerged in the Heian period created a closeness to nature and the changing seasons.

The ubiquity of seasonal imagery in Japanese language, culture and literature is not a recent phenomenon. The earliest known anthology of Japanese poetry, Kokinshū (10th century) abounds with elements of the natural world. Waka and other forms of pre-modern poetry use nature as one of their primary themes and inspired modern Japanese literature and visual culture. From The Tale of Genji, for example, in which most female characters are named after a natural object or phenomena which is associated with a specific season (Shirane, 2012) to the many examples of the seasonal trope in Japanese manga.

This workshop will take place during the celebrations of Japan’s Culture Day and will coincide with the 50th anniversary of Kawabata’s death. To commemorate his passing, we especially welcome papers considering how the seasons play a central role in Kawabata’s novels in understanding the Japanese spirit and worldview.


This online conference is organised in collaboration between The Sembazuru Japanese Centre for Japanese Studies (Faculty of Letters, Babeș-Bolyai University, Romania) and Mutual Images Research Association (MIRA). The event is free for all participants, and preregistration will be required for non-presenters.

We invite proposals for 20-minute papers in English. We encourage submissions characterised by interdisciplinary approaches and based on frameworks coming from all disciplines of humanities and social sciences. This workshop is open to PhD students and academics at any stage of their career. Papers for this workshop can fall into, but are not limited to, the following categories:

  • Symbolism of the seasons;
  • Transience of nature and passing of seasons;
  • Hanami, tsukimi and momijigari;
  • Seasons and Japanese language: kigo, saijiki…;
  • Seasons in pre-modern Japanese literature: kanshi, waka, renga, haikai;
  • Seasons and haiku;
  • Seasons in Japanese modern and contemporary literature: fiction and non-fiction;
  • Seasons in Kawabata’s novels;
  • Pictural representations of the seasons;
  • Seasons in Japanese architecture;
  • Seasons and religion: evanescence, annual observances and religious rituals, …;
  • Seasons in Japanese mythology and religion;
  • Seasons in popular culture;
  • Japanese seasonals celebration in Western culture and literature;
  • Seasons and tourism in Japan.


Abstracts (≈300 words), should be submitted by 15th September, 2022. They should be sent in Word format with the following information and in this order: a) title of abstract, b) body of abstract, c) up to 6 key words, d) author(s), e) affiliation, f) email address.

In addition to individual submissions, we welcome the submission of pre-formed panel proposals. Please send an abstract for each paper, as well as the title of your panel proposal.

Abstracts are to be submitted to the following address:
Your email subject line must read: MUTUAL IMAGES 2022 Abstract Submission.

All abstracts will be anonymously reviewed. Authors will be notified via email on the results of the review by 10th October 2022. We acknowledge receipt and answer to all paper proposals submitted. If you do not receive a reply from us within a week, please resubmit.

All papers presented may besubsequently submitted to the peer-reviewed research journal Mutual Images

More details will be announced, later on, on the online participation system, and access details will be provided in due time.

Joint Organising Chairs:

Prof. Dr. Habil. Rodica Frentiu (Babeş-Bolyai University, Romania)

Lect. Dr. Florina Ilis (Babeş-Bolyai University, Romania)

Lect. Dr. Oana Birlea (Babeş-Bolyai University, Romania)

Dr. Ciliana Tudorica (Babeş-Bolyai University, Romania)

PhD Ioana Tosu (Babeş-Bolyai University, Romania)

Dr. Aurore Yamagata-Montoya (Mutual Images Research Association, France)

Dr. Maxime Danesin (Mutual Images Research Association, France)