University of Tokyo

Coordinates: 35°42′48″N 139°45′44″E / 35.71333°N 139.76222°E / 35.71333; 139.76222
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University of Tokyo
東京大学
Latin: Universitas Tociensis
Former name
Imperial University (1886-1897)
Tokyo Imperial University (1897-1947)
TypeResearch university
EstablishedApril 12, 1877; 147 years ago (1877-04-12)
Academic affiliations
IARU
AEARU
AGS
BESETOHA
AALAU
Budget280 billion JPY (US$2.54 billion) (2021)[1]
PresidentTeruo Fujii
Academic staff
6,311 (3,937 full-time / 2,374 part-time) (2022)[2]
Total staff
11,487
Students28,133 (2022)[3]
excluding research students and auditors
Undergraduates13,962 (2022)[4]
Postgraduates14,171 (2022)[5]
including Professional degree courses
Location, ,
CampusUrban
LanguageJapanese
English (for certain courses)
Colors  UTokyo Yellow
  UTokyo Blue[6]
Websiteu-tokyo.ac.jp

The University of Tokyo (東京大学, kyō daigaku, abbreviated as UTokyo[7]) is a public research university in Bunkyō, Tokyo, Japan. Founded in 1877 as the nation's first modern university by the merger of several pre-westernisation era institutions, its direct predecessors include the Tenmongata (founded in 1684) and the Shoheizaka Institute.[8]

Although established under its current name, the university was renamed Imperial University (帝國大學, Teikoku daigaku) in 1886 and was further retitled Tokyo Imperial University (東京帝國大學, Tōkyō teikoku daigaku) to distinguish it from other imperial universities established later.[9] It served under this name until the official dissolution of the Empire of Japan in 1947, when it reverted to its original name. Since its founding, UTokyo has maintained its status as the country's premier higher educational institution, with its educational and research standards consistently recognised as the best in the country across almost all fields it covers.[10][11]

Today, the university consists of 10 faculties, 15 graduate schools, and 11 affiliated research institutes.[12] As of 2023, it has a total of 13,974 undergraduate students and 14,258 graduate students.[12] The majority of the university's educational and research facilities are concentrated within its three main Tokyo campuses: Hongo, Komaba, and Kashiwa.[13] Additionally, UTokyo operates several smaller campuses in the Greater Tokyo Area and over 60 facilities across Japan and globally.[14][15] UTokyo's total land holdings amount to 326 square kilometres (approximately 80,586 acres or 32,600 hectares), placing it amongst the largest landowners in the country.[16][17]

As of 2024, UTokyo's past and present alumni and faculty include 17 prime ministers of Japan (out of 64), 18 Nobel Prize laureates, five astronauts, and a Fields Medalist.[18] Additionally, UTokyo alumni have founded some of Japan's largest companies, such as Toyota Motor,[19] Nissan Group[20] and Hitachi.[21] UTokyo alumni have also consistently held chief executive positions in approximately a quarter of the Nikkei 225 companies (47 in 2014),[22] a fifth of the total seats in the National Diet (139 out of 713 in 2023),[23][24] more than half of the prefectual governerships (27 out of 47 in 2023),[25] and about two thirds of the justiceships at the Supreme Court of Japan (11 out of 15 in 2024).[26]

History[edit]

Akamon (the Red Gate), built in 1827

Founding[edit]

The University of Tokyo was chartered in 1877 under its current name (東京大學 Tokyo daigaku), by the Meiji government. It was founded as an amalgamation of older government schools for medicine, astronomy, and various other traditional and modern learning disciplines. In 1886, the university was renamed Imperial University (帝國大學, Teikoku daigaku), and it adopted the name Tokyo Imperial University (東京帝國大學, Tōkyō teikoku daigaku) in 1897 after the founding of the next imperial university, what is now Kyoto University.[9]

By 1888, all faculties had completed their relocation to the former site of the Tokyo house of the Maeda family in Hongo, where they continue to operate today. Among the few extant structures built before this relocation is a gate called Akamon (赤門), which has become a widely recognised symbol of the university.

University of Tokyo students (Kume, Matsuoka, Akutagawa and Naruse), circa 1916.

During its initial two decades as a modern institution, UTokyo greatly benefited from the contributions of European and American scholars. In 1871, the Meiji Government made a decision about the direction of academic disciplines: engineering was to be learnt from the United Kingdom, mathematics, physics, and international law from France, while politics, economics, and medicine were to be guided by German expertise. Additionally, agriculture and commercial law knowledge was to be sourced from the United States.[27]

Following this policy, UTokyo and its predecessor institutions sent their graduates to universities in these respective countries and also invited lecturers from them. However, by the 1880s, the Japanese government grew concerned over the spread of French republican and British constitutional monarchist ideals among the faculty and students, so Minister of Education Takato Oki instructed the university to reduce the use of English as a language of instruction, and instead to switch to Japanese.[28] This shift coincided with the return of UTokyo alumni who had completed their education in Europe, and these returnees began filling roles that had been predominantly held by foreign scholars.

Pre-war period[edit]

Great Kanto Earthquake[edit]

The University of Tokyo suffered immense damage in the Great Earthquake of 1923

On 1 September 1923, the Great Kanto Earthquake struck the Kanto Plain, inflicting immense damage upon the university. This damage included the complete destruction of almost all main buildings, including the library, as well as the loss of precious scientific and historical samples and data stored in them.[29][30] This led to a university-wide debate as to whether it should relocate to a larger site, such as Yoyogi, but ultimately, such plans were rejected. Instead, the university purchased additional land in its vicinity, which was still owned by the Maeda family, and expanded there.

The reconstruction of the university and its library was brought up in the fourth general assembly of the League of Nations in September 1923, where it was unanimously decided to provide support. The American philanthropist John D. Rockefeller Jr. personally donated $2 million (approximately $36 million in 2023). The United Kingdom formed a committee led by former Prime Minister Earl Arthur Balfour, and made significant contributions, both financially and culturally. [31] A large portion of the buildings on Hongo Campus today were built during this reconstruction period, and their unique Collegiate Gothic style is known as Uchida Gothic (内田ゴシック) after Yoshikazu Uchida, the architect who designed them.[32]

Another notable change the earthquake brought about at the university was the expansion of its seismology studies. Long having been the only university in the seismically active country, the university was already known for its seismology research, most notably the contributions made by its alumnus and professor, Fusakichi Omori, in quantitatively evaluating the aftershocks of earthquakes (Omori's law) and developing a new type of seismometer capable of recording primary waves.[33] The university set up an independent seismology department in November 1923 to delve deeply into the causes and effects of earthquakes and to better prepare for future seismic events.[34] In 1925, with a government grant, the Earthquake Research Institute was established within the university, and it has been in continuous operation up to today.[35]

World War II[edit]

UTokyo alumni's central involvement in Japan's war efforts led the university to adopt a non-collaboration policy with military research after the war

In 1941, the Empire of Japan attacked the American bases at Pearl Harbor and joined the World War II as an Axis power alongside Germany. By late 1943, as Japan faced significant defeats in the Pacific theatre, a decision was made to enlist university students studying humanities, sending them to battlefields. During the war, 1,652 students and alumni of UTokyo were killed, including those from varied civilian professions such as doctors, engineers, and diplomats, as well as those killed in action.[36] They are commemorated in a memorial erected near the front gate of the Hongo Campus. Most students from faculties of engineering and science remained at university or worked as apprentice engineers, as the expertise of science and technology was deemed indispensable for the war effort.

The increased demand brought about by the war for engineers, especially in the fields of aeronautics, machinery, electronics, and shipbuilding, led to the establishment of the second faculty of engineering (第二工学部) at UTokyo in 1942. In the newly-built Chiba Campus, around 800 students were enrolled at one time, and pivotal military engineering research activities were conducted. It was closed in 1951, and as a successor organisation, the Institute of Industrial Science was established on the site of the former headquarters of the Third Infantry Regiment in Roppongi.[37][38]

Leo Esaki, who was a student at the department of physics during the war, shared his memory of his university life in 2007: 'The day after the Tokyo Air Raid of 9 March 1945, during which more than 100 thousand citizens were killed, professor Tanaka conducted class as usual, without mentioning the war at all'.[39] The buildings and facilities of UTokyo were largely immune from air raids, allowing education and research activities to continue.[40]

Post-war period[edit]

During the American occupation era following Japan's defeat in World War II, the university dropped the word 'imperial' (帝国) from its name and reverted to its original name, the University of Tokyo (東京大学). During this period, Japan's education system was reformed to align more with the American system. As a result, UTokyo merged with two Higher Schools, which were university preparatory boy's boarding schools and thus became a four-year university as it is today in 1949. One of the higher schools that merged with UTokyo, the First Higher School, became the College of Arts and Sciences.[41] This new college, operating on the same campus of Komaba as the higher school, took on the responsibility of educating all undergraduates for the first year and a half of their degrees. It was also during this period that UTokyo first opened its doors to female students. The first nineteen female students were matriculated in April 1946.[42]

The University of Tokyo Conflict[edit]

Corridor inside the auditorium: one of the battlegrounds in the conflict between protesters and riot police

The 1960s saw an intensification of student protests across the world, including the Anti-Vietnam War protests and the May 68 events in France. This zeitgeist of the era was prominently felt in Japan as well, symbolised by the 1960 Anpo protests, in which the death of a University of Tokyo student, Michiko Kamba, caused public outrage. In 1968, the Tōdai Funsō (東大紛争, The University of Tokyo Conflict) began with medical students demanding improvements in internship conditions, in which medical students were forced to work long hours without being paid before being licensed as a doctor.

The conflict intensified with the indefinite strike decision by the students in January 1968 and escalated further following a clash between the students and faculty. Tensions peaked when radical students, most of whom were members of the Zenkyōtō (the All-Campus Joint Struggle Committees), occupied Yasuda Auditorium, leading the university to eventually call in riot police in June— a move seen as abandoning university autonomy. Efforts to resolve the situation began with the resignation of university executives and the appointment of Kato Ichiro as interim president, who started negotiations. The conflict largely ended in January 1969 after a full-scale police operation to remove the occupying students. This operation involved more than 8,500 riot police officers confronting students who fought back with Molotov cocktails and marble stones taken from the auditorium's interior.[43] Prime Minister Eisaku Sato, an alumnus of the University of Tokyo himself (Law, 1924), visited the university the day after the protesters in the auditorium were forcibly removed, and, in tears, decided to cancel that year's entrance exam. This led top highschool students to apply reluctantly to other universities such as Kyoto University and Hitotsubashi University, resulting in many applicants who would have been admitted to those universities under normal circumstances failing to gain admission. (In Japan, applicants are not allowed to apply to multiple prestigious national universities.)[44] The aftermath saw 633 prosecutions, and varied sentences, marking a turbulent chapter in the university's history.[45]

21st century[edit]

Women's education[edit]

A female student (Tokiko Kato) in the 1960s

The university first admitted female students in 1946. While the student body has remained predominantly male, various attempts have been made to achieve a more equal gender ratio. In 2023, women made up 23 per cent of first-year undergraduates, the highest percentage in the university's history. [46] A quarter of graduate students were female in 2022.[47][48]

Reforms in the 21st century[edit]

UTokyo's Kamiokande project detected cosmic neutrinos for the first time in human history and later proved neutrinos have mass, resulting in Nobel Prizes in 2003 and 2015

When the British magazine Times Higher Education first published its world university rankings in partnership with QS in 2004, the University of Tokyo was ranked 12th in the world. In the latest 2024 edition of the rankings, it is ranked 29th.[49] QS, now has its own rankings, placed the University of Tokyo at 28th.[50] As these numbers suggest, there is a widely shared concern that the university is falling behind its counterparts in the world, and in the future it may struggle to provide a suitable environment for quality education and world-class research.[51]

The University of Tokyo faces a challenging reality. Japan's long-lasting economic downturn since the 1990s has led to Japanese companies less willing to invest in research and development than before.[52] Additionally, the government's Management Expense Grant (運営費交付金) has been reduced by one per cent annually since 2004.[53] This policy, ostensibly aimed at decreasing the university’s reliance on the grant and fostering greater independence, has been blamed as one of the main reasons for the decline in the university’s competitiveness.[54]

Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe was founded in Kashiwa in 2007

To address these challenges, the University of Tokyo has implemented various reforms. In 2004, the University of Tokyo Edge Capital Partners (UTEC) was established. This venture capital firm, affiliated with the university, supports entrepreneurship arising from the University of Tokyo’s research and development, aiming to drive innovation across society.[55] In 2006, the first phase of development was completed at Kashiwa Campus. Situated in the suburb of Kashiwa, this research-focused campus spans 405,313 square metres (100 acres) and has been at the forefront of advanced scientific research since its inception.[56] In 2010, in an attempt to further internationalise and diversify its student body, the university increased its autumn enrollment opportunities for international students.[57] the University of Tokyo plans to increase the proportion of female faculty members to above a quarter by newly creating positions for 300 female lecturers by 2027.[58]

In 2021, the newly-elected President Teruo Fujii announced the UTokyo Compass, a guiding framework for the university during his tenure, focusing on diversity, dialogue, and creating a better future.[59] It emphasises the university's autonomy and creativity in a new era, advocating multifaceted perspectives on knowledge, people, and places. The Compass encourages dialogue throughout the university and society as a pivotal tool for understanding and questioning, fostering inclusivity, and tackling global challenges. In his announcement, he pledged to make the University of Tokyo a university that anyone in the world would like to join'.[60]

Student life[edit]

Admissions[edit]

A successful applicant rejoicing on the results day

The University of Tokyo's entrance exam (東大入試, todai nyushi) is regarded as the most selective in Japan and is almost synonymous with something that is difficult to achieve.[61] To apply, candidates must achieve high scores in the Common Test for University Admissions (共通テスト), a standardised multiple-choice examination. UTokyo applicants are required to take at least seven subjects in this exam. Applicants for natural sciences take two mathematics tests, Japanese (which includes modern language, classics, and Chinese classics), a foreign language, Sciences (two from Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Geology), and one Social Study subject (chosen from Geography, Japanese History, or World History). Humanities candidates take two Social Studies subjects and one Science subject instead.[62]

Based on the scores from the Common Test, approximately three times the number of the final admission slots are invited to take the main examination in late February. Based on the idea that regardless of the field of specialisation, all students should have a solid understanding of mathematics and a good command of languages, mathematics, Japanese and one foreign language are compulsory for all applicants.[63] For this exam, science candidates are tested in Advanced Mathematics, English, Japanese, and two science subjects. Humanities candidates take Mathematics, a foreign language, Advanced Japanese, and two social studies subjects (options are Geography, Japanese History, World History). UTokyo is also known to be the only university that requires all applicants, including those who wish to study natural sciences, to take a non-mulltiple-choice Japanese and Chinese classics exam. Some applicants are called upon to take an interview.[64]

Successful candidates are notified in March of the same year and are matriculated in April. The official acceptance rates for undergraduate degrees are relatively high, at around 30 per cent,[65] which is due to the policy of restricting the number of students who can sit for the exam based on the scores from the Common Test, to secure the quality of marking. Additionally, Japan's university admission policy does not allow applicants to apply to multiple prestigious national universities,[66] hence non-prospective students tend to switch to other national universities where they are more likely to secure admission.

Junior division[edit]

Komaba Campus, where all undergraduates spend a year and a half

The matriculation ceremony takes place on 12 April, the foundation day of the university.[67] All first-year students are matriculated at the College of Arts and Sciences at Komaba, which is a remnant of the time when the Komaba Campus served as the separate boarding school known as the First Higher School (第一高等学校) until 1949. [68] There, they spend the first one and a half years of their degrees. Students are required to study a foreign language they have never learnt for at least a year, with classes formed based on their choices. Popular languages include Chinese, French, German, Korean, Spanish, and Russian. These classes are meant to be places where students can interact with peers from different backgrounds and forge long-lasting friendships, especially because they spend a considerable amount of time together. There is a tradition where the previous year's class (uekura, 上クラ) invites the juniors to overnight orientation camps (ori gasshuku, オリ合宿) in early April.[69]

Intense academic competition is common among students in the junior division, as they face matriculation to the senior division (Shingaku Sentaku, 進学選択, or colloquially Shinfuri, 進振り) in September of their second year, where they are assigned to departments based on their grades for the first one and a half years at Komaba.[70] The Department of Information Science, the Faculty of Medicine, and the Department of Sociology are amongst the most selective departments in the Shingaku Sentaku.[71]

Student housing[edit]

Despite its roots as a boarding school, most undergraduates at the university either live with their families at home or in non-university accommodation. Since the closure of the Komaba dormitory (駒場寮, Komaba-ryo) in August 2001, there has been no on-campus accommodation for domestic students at the university. There are four university dormitories available for undergraduate students: Mitaka, Toshima, Oiwake and Mejirodai.[72] In 2021, approximately five per cent of the undergraduate students lived in one of the university dormitories.[73] The university offers more options for international students, with on-campus dormitories available for them at Komaba and Kashiwa.

Student newspapers and magazines[edit]

The Todai Shimbun (東大新聞) is the oldest university newspaper still in operation, with its first issue in 1920.[74] The editing committee of the newspaper has produced multiple central figures in the country's publishing industry. Recruit, a human resources company with the 13th largest market capitalisation in the whole of the country as of March 2024, spun off from the Todai Shimbun's advertisement branch in 1961.[75] There are several other newer campus newspapers and magazines, the most notable of which is the Kokasha (恒河沙).[76] The Kokasha's start-of-term issues include evaluations of lecturers by students from the previous year, and are widely read by students in the junior division to decide which modules to take at the beginning of terms. Additionally, there are several other relatively new student magazines, such as the biscUiT,[77] the Todai Shimpo and the Komaba Times.[78] Apart from those, student web media such as the UT-base[79] and the UmeeT are widely read by students.

Senior division[edit]

One of the refectories in Hongo, situated underground

After completing the Shingaku Sentaku, second-year students matriculate into senior division departments to specialise in their chosen fields. With the exception of the senior division of the College of Arts and Sciences and the Department of Mathematics, which are located in Komaba, all other senior departments are situated in Hongo. Consequently, approximately 85 per cent of the students start a new chapter of their university life there.[80]

The Hongo Campus is located closer to the centre of Tokyo, providing access to more restaurants, cafes, and large museums in the vicinity. In addition to these, the campus itself has fifteen refectories and restaurants, nine cafes, nine convenience stores and kiosks, one bookshop, two barbershops, and an underground gym with two 25-metre pools.[81][82][83]

Yasuda Auditorium, the venue for graduation ceremonies

Graduation ceremonies take place towards the end of March. Approximately one-third of the graduates enter the workforce upon graduation, while the remainder continue their studies at graduate schools within the university or at universities abroad.[84] Popular places of employment for UTokyo graduates include the university itself, government ministries, global conglomerates such as Sony and Hitachi, consulting firms such as McKinsey & Company and PwC Consulting, trading companies (総合商社, sogo shosha) such as Mitsubishi Corp and Mitsui Corp, and investment banks.[85]

International education[edit]

As of 1 November 2023, the University of Tokyo hosts 5,106 international students, who represent 17.7 percent of the total student body. Of these, 4,874 are postgraduate students and 460 are undergraduates. Exchange students and postdoctoral researchers are not included in these numbers. [86]

At the undergraduate level, there are mainly three routes for those who have not received their secondary education in Japanese to apply to the University of Tokyo. First, individuals with high Japanese proficiency can apply through the special admissions process for students educated overseas (外国学校卒業学生特別選考).[87] Students admitted via this route study alongside their peers who received secondary education in Japanese. International students who apply via this route sometimes spend a year studying the language at preparatory schools before matriculation. Second, there are undergraduate programmes called PEAK (Programs in English at Komaba), which accept applications based on international qualifications such as the A-level, SAT, and International Baccalaureate. All modules in these programmes are taught in English. However, learning Japanese is mandatory, and those confident in their Japanese ability can take modules taught in Japanese in other departments.[88] Third, the university offers exchange programmes with universities worldwide.[89] There are University-wide Student Exchange Programmes (USTEP) with universities such as Tsinghua University, Princeton University, National University of Singapore and Yale University.[90] The College of Arts and Sciences has its own exchange programmes called KOMSTEP with universities such as University of Paris. [91] The Faculty of Engineering also has its own exchange programmes, whose partner institutions include Petroleum Institute, Abu Dhabi, University of Cambridge, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.[92]

Starting in Autumn 2027, UTokyo plans to offer a five-year programme called the College of Design. The programme aims to 'redefine design as a broad concept (...) based on interdisciplinary knowledge that integrates the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, engineering and other fields'.[93] Approximately 100 students will be matriculated annually, with half of them coming from overseas.[94]

A wider variety of postgraduate programmes are offered in English,[95] making the international student ratio significantly higher for postgraduate studies (31.32 per cent in November 2023).[86]

Organisation[edit]

Teruo Fujii, the 31st president of the University of Tokyo

The University of Tokyo operates under a central administration system, with policies often determined by the administrative council led by the president.[96] However, due to the university's history as an amalgamation of various institutions, each of the university's constituent colleges, faculties and institutes has its own administrative board. Today, the University of Tokyo is organised into 10 faculties[97] and 15 graduate schools.[98]

The leader of the University of Tokyo is known as the president (総長, socho) and it is not a ceremonial role. They are elected every six years by the university's board council from among the faculty members. The current president is Teruo Fujii, a scholar in applied microfluidics, who assumed the role in April 2021 and is expected to serve until March 2027.[99]

Faculties and graduate schools[edit]

At the centre of the University of Tokyo's research and education efforts are 10 faculties and their affiliated graduate schools. This organisational structure, introduced as a result of reforms in the 1990s, aims to maximise the outcomes of education and research by integrating them across undergraduate and graduate levels, rather than maintaining separate focuses for each.[100]

Faculty Founded Locations Affiliated graduate schools Colour Website
Law

(法学部)

1871 Hongo Graduate Schools for Law and Politics Green https://www.j.u-tokyo.ac.jp/en/
Medicine

(医学部)

1868 Hongo, Shirokane Graduate School of Medicine Red https://www.m.u-tokyo.ac.jp/english/
Engineering

(工学部)

1871 Hongo, Kashiwa, KomabaII, Asano Graduate School of Engineering, Graduate School of Frontier Sciences, Graduate School of Information Science and Technology White https://www.t.u-tokyo.ac.jp/en/foe
Letters

(文学部)

1868 Hongo Graduate School of Humanities and Sociology None https://www.l.u-tokyo.ac.jp/eng/index.html
Science

(理学部)

1877 Hongo, Komaba(maths) Graduate School of Science, Graduate School of Mathematical Sciences Benikaba https://www.s.u-tokyo.ac.jp/en/
Agriculture

(農学部)

1886 Hongo (Yayoi) Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences Indigo https://www.a.u-tokyo.ac.jp/english/
Economics

(経済学部)

1919 Hongo Graduate School of Economics Blue https://www.e.u-tokyo.ac.jp/index-e.html
Arts and Science

(教養学部)

1886 Komaba Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Black and Yellow https://www.c.u-tokyo.ac.jp/eng_site/
Education

(教育学部)

1949 Hongo, Nakano Graduate School of Education Orange https://www.p.u-tokyo.ac.jp/english/
Pharmaceutical Sciences

(薬学部)

1958 Hongo Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences Enji https://www.f.u-tokyo.ac.jp/en/

In addition to the graduate schools affiliated with specific faculties, the University of Tokyo also includes two independent graduate institutions: the Graduate School of Interdisciplinary Information Studies and the Graduate School of Public Policy (GraSPP).

Research institutes[edit]

Apart from the faculties and graduate schools, the University of Tokyo hosts eleven affiliated research institutes. (附置研究所) These institutes serve as research hubs in their respective fields, aiming to widely disseminate their findings for societal benefit. Simultaneously, they function as educational institutions for the graduate schools.[101][102][103]

Institute Website
Atmosphere and Ocean Research Institute

(大気海洋研究所)

Advances basic research on oceans and atmosphere, focusing on climate change and evolution of life, and offers graduate education. link
Earthquake Research Institute

(地震研究所)

Conducts basic research on earthquakes and volcanic phenomena, aiming at disaster prevention and mitigation. link
Historiographical Institute

(史料編纂所)

Focuses on collecting, researching, and editing historical documents, especially in the field of pre-modern Japanese history. link
Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia (Formerly known as Institute of Oriental Culture)

(東洋文化研究所)

Specialises in comprehensive studies of Asia, including humanities and social sciences, and collaborates internationally. link
Institute for Cosmic Ray Research

(宇宙線研究所)

Observes cosmic rays and particles for research in astrophysics and particle physics. link
Institute for Solid State Physics

(物性研究所)

Researches the properties of materials at the microscopic level, using advanced technologies such as quantum beams and supercomputers. link
Institute of Industrial Science

(生産技術研究所)

Engages in applied research integrating various fields of engineering, covering almost all aspects of engineering. link
Institute of Medical Science

(医科学研究所)

Focuses on diseases such as cancer and infectious diseases, aiming at innovative treatment methods including genomics and AI in healthcare. link
Institute for Quantitative Biosciences

(定量生命科学研究所)

Conducts advanced research in describing all life dynamics by physical quantities, incorporating fields such as mathematics, physics, and chemistry. link
Institute of Social Science

(社会科学研究所)

Aims at producing 'comprehensive knowledge' in social sciences, conducting joint research and providing an international platform for empirical social science research. link
Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology

(先端科学技術研究センター)

Engages in interdisciplinary research in various fields such as materials, environment, information, and social sciences, aiming at pioneering new scientific and technological areas. link

UTokyo Institutes For Advanced Study (UTIAS)[edit]

UTokyo Institutes For Advanced Study (UTIAS) started in January 2011. Its primary objective is to improve academic excellence and foster an internationalised research environment. There are four UTIAS institutes as of November 2023:[104]

Institute Website
Tokyo College Established in February 2019 to collaboratively explore the future of humanity and Earth. Engages in interdisciplinary research on themes such as the digital revolution, Earth's limits, Japan's future, future humanities, and the future of life. It also acts as a host institution for visiting professors, including Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba Group. [105][106] link
Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe Focuses on fundamental questions about the universe, including dark energy, dark matter, and unified theories, with interdisciplinary approaches involving mathematics, physics, and astronomy. link
International Research Center for Neurointelligence (IRCN) Established in October 2017 to create a new field of 'Neurointelligence'. Integrating life sciences, medicine, linguistics, mathematics, and information science, it chiefly aims to further understand human intelligence, and utilise the outcomes to overcome mental illnesses, and develop new types of AI based on brain functioning. link
The University of TOkyo Pandemic preparedness, Infection and Advanced research center (UTOPIA) Established in October 2022, its aim is to equip the society with resilience against future pandemics through fundamental research in infectious diseases, immunity. It takes multi-disciplinary approaches involving immunology, structural biology, AI, and social sciences, and aims to develop systems for quickly providing effective and safe vaccines and treatments in emergencies. link

University of Tokyo library system[edit]

Reading room, General Library (Hongo)

The University of Tokyo Library System consists of three comprehensive libraries located on the main campuses—Hongo, Komaba, and Kashiwa—along with 27 other field-specific libraries operated by various faculties and research institutes.[107] As of 2023, the University of Tokyo library has a collection of over 9.9 million books and numerous materials of historical importance.[108] This extensive collection ranks it as the second-largest library in Japan, surpassed only by the National Diet Library, which holds a collection of approximately 46.8 million books.[109] It also subscribes to about 170,000 journals, contributing to research activities throughout the university.

The headquarters of the library is situated in the General Library at Hongo, which underwent thorough renovation in the late 2010s. It now features a 46-metre-deep automated storage capable of housing approximately 3 million books.[110]

University of Tokyo Hospital[edit]

Outpatient Clinic Building of the hospital

The University of Tokyo Hospital is an academic health science centre operated by the Faculty of Medicine. The hospital finds its roots in the Kanda Otamagaike Vaccination Centre, established in 1858. It has 37 clinical examination rooms for a wide range of specialisations including Cardiovascular Medicine and Orthopaedic Surgery, among others. With a capacity of 1,210 beds, the hospital facilitated medical services for 389,830 inpatients and 794,454 outpatients in the fiscal year 2010.[111] Newsweek's World's Best Hospitals 2023 ranks it 17th in the world, 2nd in Asia, and 1st in Japan.[112] It serves as the primary hospital for the Imperial Family of Japan, with both the current emperor and the emperor emeritus having undergone major operations there.[113][114]

Museums[edit]

The University of Tokyo operates eight museums, three of which fall under the purview of the University Museum (UMUT) (東京大学総合研究博物館, Tōkyō daigaku sōgō kenkyū hakubutsukan).

Museum Location Operator Website
University Museum The largest university museum in Japan, it has amassed over three million academic materials since 1877. It has hosted numerous planned exhibitions in addition to its permanent exhibition. Hongo UMUT Link
INTERMEDIATHEQUE A joint venture with Japan Post, it's housed in the JP Tower in Marunouchi and focuses on interdisciplinary experimentation, showcasing scientific and cultural heritage. JP Tower, Marunouchi, Chiyoda UMUT/Japan Post Link
University Museum, Koishikawa Annex Located in one of the University of Tokyo's oldest buildings, it displays architectural models and photographs documenting the construction of various famous structures from around the world. Koishikawa botanical garden UMUT Link
Komaba Museum Combining an art and a natural science museum, it features collaborative exhibitions that transcend the boundaries of liberal arts and science. Komaba College of Arts and Sciences Link
Museum of Health and Medicine Provides information about health and medicine. Hongo Faculty of Medicine Link
Medical Science Museum Aims to preserve and display historical medical materials, offering a tranquil environment for visitors to reflect on the past, present, and future of medical science. Shirokanedai Institute of Medical Sciences Link
Farm Museum Located in a renovated dairy barn in the Tanashi University Farm, it showcases farming implements and other agricultural artefacts. Tanashi farm Faculty of Agriculture
Agricultural Museum Displays items related to agriculture, including artefacts such as Hachiko's internal organs. Yayoi Faculty of Agriculture

Apart from the aforementioned museums, the University of Tokyo operates several other public facilities, the most notable of which are two botanical gardens managed by the Faculty of Science: Koishikawa and Nikko.

Koishikawa Botanical Garden Established in 1684, this botanical garden has been operated by the University of Tokyo since its foundation as a modern university in 1877.[115] It was in this garden that in 1894 Hirase Sakugoro the discovered spermatozoids of the ginkgo, proving that gymnosperms produce sperm cells. The garden is designated as a National Monument (名勝, meishō) and is open to the public for an admission fee of 500 yen (free for University of Tokyo students and faculty). [116]
Nikko Botanical Garden Opened in 1902 as an annex to the Koishikawa Garden, this facility is located in the highland resort town of Nikko and primarily focuses on alpine plants. It has become a popular tourist destination in Nikko and is accessible to the public with an admission fee of 500 yen.[117]

Notable research[edit]

Since its foundation in 1877 as a modern university, the University of Tokyo has conducted numerous research projects across various fields, achieving notable outcomes. Below are some widely-recognised research endeavours conducted by individuals and teams affiliated with the University of Tokyo at the time of their research.

Proton-proton reaction

Academic rankings and reputation[edit]

University rankings
THE World[128] General 29
QS World[129] General 28
ARWU World[130] Research 27
UTokyo's performance in various world university rankings (2003-2024)

Due to its age and its academic and social status, the University of Tokyo is considered to be the most prestigious university in Japan, and reflecting this, its admission process for undergraduate degrees is regarded as the most selective in the country.[131][132][133] In major global university rankings, the university has been experiencing a downward trend primarily due to delays in internationalisation.[134]

  • The QS World University Rankings[135] ranked the University of Tokyo 28th in the world in 2023 (1st in Japan).
  • The QS World University Rankings by Subject 2023 ranked the University of Tokyo 1st in Japan for 41 out of the 47 academic disciplines the university covers. The university was ranked 11th in the world for Natural Sciences, 20th for Engineering and Technology, 33rd for Social Sciences & Management, and 42nd for Arts and Humanities.[136]
  • The Times Higher Education World University Rankings ranked the University of Tokyo 29th in the world in 2023 (1st in Japan).[137]
  • UTokyo's performance in the THE World University rankings compared to other universities (2004-2009 and 2011-2024)
    The Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings 2022 ranked the University of Tokyo 10th in the world (1st in Japan, 2nd in Asia).
  • In 2017, Times Higer Education's Alma Mater Index ranked the University of Tokyo 16th in the world. This index ranked universities according to how many qualifications they have awarded to chief executives of companies that appear in Fortune magazine’s Fortune Global 500.[138]
  • The University of Tokyo has consistently been the largest recipient of the KAKENHI Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research (Japan's largest national research grant) in the country. In FY2022, it alone received approximately 10 percent of the total grants awarded to 1,370 institutions across Japan.[139][140]

Sites[edit]

Apart from the three main campuses, the University of Tokyo operates a large number of other campuses and facilities globally. Each campus was established at a different stage in the university's history, and they each serve distinct roles in education and research. The university's land holdings in Japan amount to 326 square kilometres.[16] As of 31 March 2023, the university's real estate holdings are valued at 1.14 trillion yen.[142]

Hongo campus[edit]

The Hongo campus has been the university's centre since 1884, when the university's administration office relocated to the site. The campus faces Shinobazu Pond in Ueno Park to the east and has in its vicinity the electric district Akihabara, the city's bookshop hub, Jimbōchō, and the city's largest indoor stadium, Tokyo Dome. The campus is served by three Tokyo Metro stations: Hongo-sanchome, Todai-mae, and Nezu.[143] It occupies the former estate of the Maeda family, Edo period feudal lords of Kaga Province.[144] One of the university's best known landmarks, Akamon (the Red Gate), is a relic of this era. The symbol of the university is the ginkgo leaf, from the trees found throughout the area. The Hongo campus also hosts the University of Tokyo's annual May Festival.[145]

Komaba Campus[edit]

The Komaba Campus, serving as the educational hub for the first two years of undergraduate studies, provides general education to around 6,000 first and second year students. The campus, also home to the Graduate Schools of Arts, Sciences, and Mathematical Sciences, has advanced research facilities. It also provides specialised education for about 450 senior division undergraduate students in the College of Arts and Sciences and 1,400 graduate students across various disciplines. It is served by Komaba-Todaimae Station on the Keio Inokashira line, which is directly connected to the main gate of the campus.[143]

Kashiwa Campus[edit]

The Kashiwa Campus specialises in postgraduate education and research. It houses the Graduate School of Frontier Sciences along with advanced research institutes such as the Institute for Cosmic Ray Research, the Institute for Solid State Physics, the Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe, and the Atmosphere and Ocean Research Institute, equipped with extensive facilities and services.

Shirokanedai Campus[edit]

The relatively small Shirokanedai Campus[146] hosts the Institute of Medical Science of the University of Tokyo (IMSUT), which is entirely dedicated to postgraduate studies. The campus is focused on genome research, including among its facilities the Human Genome Center (HGC), which have at its disposal the largest supercomputer in the field.[147]

The main building of the Shirokanedai Campus

Other sites[edit]

Notable alumni[edit]

Throughout its history as a modern university since 1877, a considerable number of UTokyo alumni have become notable in various fields, both academic and otherwise. A total of twelve Nobel laureates have earned degrees from UTokyo, with prizes won in five of the six categories. This is the largest number among all universities in Asia.[148] However, when including other affiliates such as researchers, the total number is surpassed by Kyoto University.[149]

Law and Politics[edit]

The University of Tokyo has educated eighteen prime ministers of Japan: Hara Takashi (dropped out), Katō Takaaki (Law, 1881), Wakatsuki Reijirō (Law, 1892), Osachi Hamaguchi (Law, 1895), Kōki Hirota (Law, 1905), Fumimaro Konoe (Letters, dropped out), Hiranuma Kiichirō (Law, 1888), Kijūrō Shidehara (Law, 1895), Shigeru Yoshida (Law, 1906), Tetsu Katayama (Law, 1912), Hitoshi Ashida (Law, 1912), Ichirō Hatoyama (Law, 1907), Nobusuke Kishi (Law, 1920), Eisaku Satō (Law, 1924), Takeo Fukuda (Law, 1929), Yasuhiro Nakasone (Law, 1941), Kiichi Miyazawa (Law, 1941), Yukio Hatoyama (Engineering, 1969).

Eisaku Satō received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1974, for his comminment to halting the spread of nuclear arms.[150]

UTokyo has produced numerous other influential politicians since its establishment. As of December 2023, UTokyo alumni hold 139 seats in the National Diet (the national legislature of Japan), accounting for about a fifth of the total seats.[24][23] Six members of the cabinet are UTokyo alumni, including the Chief Cabinet Secretary: Yoshimasa Hayashi; Internal Affairs: Takeaki Matsumoto; Justice: Ryuji Koizumi; Foreign Affairs: Yoko Kamikawa; Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology: Masahito Moriyama; and Economy, Trade and Industry: Ken Saito.[151][152] As of April 2023, 27 out of the 47 incumbent governors of Japanese prefectures have received their undergraduate education at UTokyo.[25]

UTokyo has produced a large number of distinguished jurists, judges and lawyers. As of February 2024, eleven out of the fifteen incumbent justices of the Supreme Court are UTokyo alumni.[26] The university is also the Alma Mater of all four Japanese judges of the International Court of Justice: Kōtarō Tanaka, Shigeru Oda, Hisashi Owada and Yuji Iwasawa. Tomoko Akane has served as the president of the International Criminal Court (ICC) since March 2024.

Sciences, engineering and mathematics[edit]

Nine Nobel-awarded scientists have earned degrees from UTokyo: six in physics (Leo Esaki, Masatoshi Koshiba, Shin'ichirō Tomonaga, Yoichiro Nambu, Takaaki Kajita and Syukuro Manabe), one in chemistry (Ei-ichi Negishi) and two in Physiology or Medicine (Yoshinori Ohsumi and Satoshi Ōmura). Addtionally, Kunihiko Kodaira won a Fields Medal, often called the 'Nobel Prize for mathematics'.

Four architects educated at the Faculty of Engineering have received the Pritzker Architecture Prize: Arata Isozaki, Kenzo Tange, Toyo Ito and Fumihiko Maki.

Kiichiro Toyoda, an alumnus of the Faculty of Engineering, founded Toyota Motor, the largest car manufacturer in the world and the largest company in Japan by both market capitalisation and revenue.[153] Namihei Odaira, also an alumnus of the Faculty of Engineering, founded Hitachi, one of the largest electronics conglomerates in the world.[154] Another UTokyo-educated engineer, Yoshisuke Ayukawa, founded the Nissan Group (zaibatsu),[155] from which some of Japan's largest companies, such as Nissan, Isuzu, NEC, and SOMPO Holdings, spun off.[156]

Other notable UTokyo-educated scientists, engineers and mathematicians include: Kiyoshi Ito, Hantaro Nagaoka, Yoshio Nishina, Teiji Takagi, Yoji Totsuka, Kikunae Ikeda, Kitasato Shibasaburō, Kazuhiko Nishijima, Hirotugu Akaike, Hideo Shima, Yuzuru Hiraga, Takamine Jōkichi, Akira Fujishima and Tosio Kato.

Literature, arts and humanities[edit]

Numerous notable literary figures have attended the University of Tokyo, two of whom received the Nobel Prize in Literature: Yasunari Kawabata (Known for The Dancing Girl of Izu, Snow Country and The Old Capital) and Kenzaburo Oe (A Personal Matter, The Silent Cry and Death by Water). Other notable UTokyo-educated writers include: Soseki Natsume (I Am a Cat, Botchan, Sanshiro and Kokoro), Ōgai Mori, Ryunosuke Akutagawa, Junichiro Tanizaki, Naoya Shiga, Osamu Dazai, Yukio Mishima, Kobo Abe, Shinichi Hoshi and Atsushi Nakajima. Kunio Yanagita made significant contributions to the preservation and studies of Japanese folklore.[157]

Isao Takahata co-founded Studio Ghibli with Hayao Miyazaki and directed animation films including Grave of the Fireflies, Pom Poko, and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya.[158] Together with Miyazaki, he created animation films such as Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and Laputa: Castle in the Sky. Yoji Yamada directed the film series Otoko wa Tsurai yo and the Samurai Trilogy (The Twilight Samurai, The Hidden Blade and Love and Honor). Koichi Sugiyama is known for composing the music for Dragon Quest, along with several other famous video games, anime, films, television shows, and pop songs.


Other notable people

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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Further reading[edit]

  • Kato, Mariko (August 11, 2009). "Todai still beckons nation's best, brightest but goals diversifying". Japan Times. Retrieved March 24, 2024.
  • Kersten, Rikki. "The intellectual culture of postwar Japan and the 1968–1969 University of Tokyo Struggles: Repositioning the self in postwar thought." Social Science Japan Journal 12.2 (2009): 227–245.
  • Marshall, Byron K. Academic Freedom and the Japanese Imperial University, 1868–1939 (University of California Press, 1992).
  • Takashi, Tachibana, and Richard H. Minear. Tokyo University and the War (2017), on world war II; online.

External links[edit]

Media related to University of Tokyo at Wikimedia Commons

35°42′48″N 139°45′44″E / 35.71333°N 139.76222°E / 35.71333; 139.76222