East Asian Studies combines research on the cultural and religious history of Japan with philological and philosophical research on Buddhism in China.

Japanological research at the IKGA is devoted primarily, but not exclusively, to pre-modern Japan, with a focus on topics in the history of religion, in particular the emergence of Shinto from the syncretism of the Japanese Middle Ages. Completed projects include research on life-cycle patterns such as childhood and old age in pre-modern Japan.

Projects focussing on China are closely linked to the fields of Buddhist Studies, South Asian Studies, and Tibetan Studies. On the basis of critical textual reading, they explore unresolved questions regarding the history of the transmission of Buddhism into China and the conceptual contours of Chinese Buddhist philosophy.