Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Kultur-, Sozial- und Bildungswissenschaftliche Fakultät - Institut für Asien- und Afrikawissenschaften

Prof. Dr. Gerhard Leinss

Prof. Dr. Gerhard Leinss


After an extended journey across Asia, I found myself in the late 1970s studying Japanese and Chinese at Sophia University in Tokyo. More formally trained I was thereafter at Tübingen University from where I received a M.A. degree in Japanese and Chinese (1985) and a PhD in Japanese Studies (1993). Since 1986 I have also been involved in teaching and conducting research in Japanese studies, at first at Tübingen University, later also, among others, at the University of Trier, University of Hamburg, Humboldt University and more recently (2010-2014) in the Department of East Asian Studies at the University of Cambridge where I also have been affiliated to the Needham Research Institute as a Senior Research Fellow (2012-2014). Since autumn 2014 I am a Visiting Professor in Japanese Studies here in the Department at Humboldt University of Berlin.


Research Interests

I am broadly interested in the cultural and intellectual history of Japan within the wider East Asian context. In my early research I concentrated on early modern Japanese Confucian thought and its relation to continental traditions, whereas most of the research since then has been devoted to the study of time and the numerous aspects of cultural and intellectual history related to it. I am particularly interested in the time structured and qualified by the many calendars that survived from all historical periods and how these editions shaped the time perception of the people who had used them. After having published some basic research on early modern calendars, I am currently working on an overall history of the calendar and time in Japan, preparing at present a study on the initial adoption of the continental time order from the beginnings to the 10th century. (Here you will find more on the Project Calendar and Time in Japan).


Among the five courses I am teaching each term, there is usually a general survey course and a class on a general topics related to Japanese culture and society which are both open to all students across the university. Two other classes are more specifically for students of Japanese language and culture and mostly deal or include aspects of premodern culture and texts expressed in different historical language styles. My colloquium is open to all students that are preparing an undergraduate dissertation related to Japan.

Key Publications

“Japanische Lunisolarkalender der Jahre Jōkyō 2 (1685) bis Meiji 6 (1873). Zeicheninventar”, Japonica Humboldtiana, vol. 11 (2007), p. 53−78.

“Japanische Lunisolarkalender der Jahre Jōkyō 2 (1685) bis Meiji 6 (1873). Aufbau und inhaltliche Bestandsaufnahme”, Japonica Humboldtiana, vol. 10 (2006), p. 5−89.  (

Japanische Anthropologie. Die Natur des Menschen in der konfuzianischen Neoklassik am Anfang des 18. Jahrhunderts. Jinsai und Sorai (= Izumi. Quellen, Studien und Materialien zur Kultur Japans, hrsg. v. Klaus Kracht, vol. 2), Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1995. (google.books)

Yamaga Sokōs „Kompendium der Weisenlehre“ (Seikyō yōroku). Ein Wörterbuch des neoklassischen Konfuzianismus im Japan des 17. Jahrhunderts, übersetzt, annotiert und eingeleitet (Izumi 1), Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1989. (google.books)

Japanische Geistesgeschichte (= Japanische Fachtexte, vol. 3), bearbeitet mit Klaus Kracht and Olof Lidin, Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1988. (google.books)