University of Tokyo

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The University of Tokyo ( 東京 大学 , Tōkyō daigaku ), abbreviated as Todai ( 東大 , Tōdai ) [4] or UTokyo, [41] is a public research university located in Bunkyo, Tokyo, often cited as the most prestigious university in Japan.

The university has 10 faculties and enrolls about 30,000 students, 2,100 of whom are international students. Its five campuses are in Hongō, Komaba, Kashiwa, Shirokane and Nakano. It is the first of Japan's National Seven Universities. [5] [6]


The university was chartered by the Meiji government in 1877 under its current name by amalgamating older government schools for medicine and Western learning. It was renamed "the Imperial University (帝國大學,Teikoku daigaku) " in 1886, and then Tokyo Imperial University (東京帝國大學,Tōkyō teikoku daigaku) in 1897 when the Imperial University system was created. In September 1923, an earthquake and the following fires destroyed about 700,000 volumes of the Imperial University Library. [2] The books lost included the Hoshino Library (星野文庫,Hoshino bunko), a collection of about 10,000 books. [2] [4] The books were the former possessions of Hoshino Hisashi before becoming part of the library of the university and were mainly about Chinese philosophy and history.

In 1947, after Japan's defeat in World War II, it re-assumed its original name. With the start of the new university system in 1949, Todai swallowed up the former First Higher School (today's Komaba campus) and the former Tokyo Higher School, which thenceforth assumed the duty of teaching first- and second-year undergraduates, while the faculties on Hongo main campus took care of third- and fourth-year students.

Although the university was founded during the Meiji period, it has earlier roots in the Astronomy Agency (天文方; 1684), Shoheizaka Study Office (昌平坂学問所; 1797), and the Western Books Translation Agency (蕃書和解御用; 1811). These institutions were government offices established by the 徳川幕府 Tokugawa shogunate (1603–1867), and played an important role in the importation and translation of books from Europe.

Kikuchi Dairoku, an important figure in Japanese education, served as president of Tokyo Imperial University.

For the 1964 Summer Olympics, the university hosted the running portion of the modern pentathlon event. [2]

On 20 January 2012, Todai announced that it would shift the beginning of its academic year from April to September to align its calendar with the international standard. The shift would be phased in over five years. [11] [2] But this unilateral announcement by the president was received badly and the university abandoned the plans.

According to the Japan Times, the university had 1,282 professors in February 2012. Of those, 58 were women. [11]

In the fall of 2012 and for the first time, the University of Tokyo started two undergraduate programs entirely taught in English and geared toward international students — Programs in English at Komaba (PEAK) — the International Program on Japan in East Asia and the International Program on Environmental Sciences. [2] [2] In 2014, the School of Science at the University of Tokyo introduced an all-English undergraduate transfer program called Global Science Course (GSC). [2]


The University of Tokyo is organized into 10 faculties [2] and 15 graduate schools. [2]

  • Faculty of Agriculture
  • College of Arts and Sciences
  • Faculty of Economics
  • Faculty of Education
  • Faculty of Engineering
  • Faculty of Law
  • Faculty of Letters
  • Faculty of Medicine
  • Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences
  • Faculty of Science
  • Faculty of Agriculture
  • Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences
  • Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
  • Graduate School of Economics
  • Graduate School of Education
  • Graduate School of Engineering
  • Graduate School of Frontier Sciences
  • Graduate School of Humanities and Sociology
  • Graduate School of Information Science and Technology
  • Graduate School of Interdisciplinary Information Studies
  • Graduate Schools for Law and Politics
  • Graduate School of Mathematical Sciences
  • Graduate School of Medicine
  • Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences
  • Graduate School of Public Policy
  • Graduate School of Science

Graduate programs

Todai Law School is considered as one of the top Law schools in Japan, ranking top in the number of successful candidates of Japanese Bar Examination in 2009 and 2010. [2] Eduniversal ranked Japanese business schools, and the Faculty of Economics in Todai is placed 4th in Japan (111th in the world). [2]


The University of Tokyo is considered a top research institution of Japan. It receives the largest amount of national grants for research institutions, Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research, receiving 40% more than the University with 2nd largest grants and 90% more than the University with 3rd largest grants. [3] This massive financial investment from the Japanese government directly affects Todai's research outcomes. According to Thomson Reuters, Todai is the best research university in Japan. [47] Its research excellence is especially distinctive in Physics (1st in Japan, 2nd in the world), Biology & Biochemistry (1st in Japan, 3rd in the world), Pharmacology & Toxicology (1st in Japan, 5th in the world), Materials Science (3rd in Japan, 19th in the world), Chemistry (2nd in Japan, 5th in the world), and Immunology (2nd in Japan, 20th in the world). [48]

In another ranking, Nikkei Shimbun on 2004/2/16 surveyed about the research standards in Engineering studies based on Thomson Reuters, Grants in Aid for Scientific Research and questionnaires to heads of 93 leading Japanese Research Centers, and Todai was placed 4th (research planning ability 3rd/informative ability of research outcome 10th/ability of business-academia collaboration 3rd) in this ranking. [3] Weekly Diamond also reported that Todai has the 3rd highest research standard in Japan in terms of research fundings per researchers in COE Program. [3] In the same article, it's also ranked 21st in terms of the quality of education by GP funds per student.

Todai also has been recognized for its research in the social sciences and humanities. In January 2011, Repec ranked Todai's Economics department as Japan's best economics research university. [3] And it is the only Japanese university within world top 100. [52] Todai has produced 9 presidents of the Japanese Economic Association, the largest number in the association. [3] Asahi Shimbun summarized the amount of academic papers in Japanese major legal journals by university, and Todai was ranked top during 2005-2009. [54]

Research institutes


  • Institute of Medical Science
  • Earthquake Research Institute
  • Institute of Oriental Culture
  • Institute of Social Science
  • Institute of Industrial Science
  • Historiographical Institute
  • Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences
  • Institute for Cosmic Ray Research
  • Institute for Solid State Physics
  • Atmosphere and Ocean Research Institute
  • Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology

The University's School of Science and the Earthquake Research Institute are both represented on the national Coordinating Committee for Earthquake Prediction. [3]

Rankings and reputation

University of Tokyo (Todai) is considered to be the most selective and prestigious university in Japan and is counted as one of the best universities in the world. [5] [5] [5]

Nikkei BP has been publishing a ranking system " Brand rankings of Japanese universities " every year, composed by the various indications related to the power of brand, and Todai has been 2nd in 2009-2010 in Greater Tokyo Area. [5] [58] The university has been ranked 1st during 2006-2010 in the ranking " Truly Strong Universities " by Toyo Keizai. [55] In another ranking, Japanese prep school Kawaijuku ranked Todai as the best university in Japan. [56]

Todai was ranked second in the world, behind Harvard University, in Mines ParisTech: Professional Ranking of World Universities (2011), which measured universities' numbers of alumni holding CEO positions in Fortune Global 500 companies. [65]

Todai alumni are distinctively successful in Japanese industries. According to the Weekly Economist's 2010 rankings, graduates from Todai have the 12th best employment rate in 400 major companies in Japan. [6] However, this lower ranking position is because of the large number of alumni who become government bureaucrats, which is more than double of alumni from any other universities. [6] In fact, alumni of Todai have the highest average salary in Japan, according to PRESIDENT. [6]


Hongo Campus

The main Hongo campus occupies the former estate of the Maeda family, Edo period feudal lords of Kaga Province. 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. [6]

Sanshiro Pond

Sanshiro Pond (三四郎池,Sanshirō ike), university's Hongo campus, dates to 1615. After the fall of the Osaka Castle, the shogun gave this pond and its surrounding garden to Maeda Toshitsune. With further development of the garden by Maeda Tsunanori, it became known as one of the most beautiful gardens in Edo (Now Tokyo), with the traditional eight landscapes and eight borders, and known for originality in artificial pond, hills, and pavilions. It was at that time known as Ikutoku-en (Garden of Teaching Virtue). The pond's contours are in the shape of the character kokoro or shin (heart), and thus its official name is Ikutoku-en Shinjiike. It has been commonly called Sanshiro Pond after the title of Natsume Sōseki's novel Sanshiro.

Komaba Campus

One of the five campuses of the University of Tokyo, the Komaba Campus is home to the College of Arts and Sciences, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the Graduate School of Mathematical Sciences, and a number of advanced research facilities and campus services. This is the campus where all the freshmen and sophomores of the University of Tokyo spend their college life. The University of Tokyo is the only university in Japan which has a system of two years of general education before students can choose and move on to special fields of study. The Komaba Campus is the cornerstone of general education, and was designated as the "center of excellence" for three new areas of research by the Ministry of Education and Science. There are currently over 7,000 students (freshmen and sophomores) enrolled in the general education courses, about 450 students (juniors and seniors) pursuing their specialties in the College of Arts and Sciences, and 1,400 graduate students in the advanced study.

Shirokanedai Campus

The relatively small Shirokanedai Campus [34] 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. [35]

Notable alumni and faculty members

  • The university has produced many notable people. 15 prime ministers of Japan have studied at the University of Tokyo. [36] Former prime minister Kiichi Miyazawa ordered Japanese government agencies to reduce the rate of employees who had attended the university's law faculty to below 50 percent due to concerns about diversity in the bureaucracy. [80]
  • Twelve alumni of University of Tokyo have received the Nobel Prize or the Fields Medal.
  1. Kunihiko Kodaira, Mathematics, 1954
  2. Sin-Itiro Tomonaga, Physics, 1965
  3. Yasunari Kawabata, Literature, 1968
  4. Leo Esaki, Physics, 1973
  5. Eisaku Satō, Peace, 1974
  6. Kenzaburō Ōe, Literature, 1994
  7. Masatoshi Koshiba, Physics, 2002
  8. Yoichiro Nambu, Physics, 2008
  9. Ei-ichi Negishi, Chemistry, 2010
  10. Satoshi Ōmura, Medicine, 2015
  11. Takaaki Kajita, Physics, 2015
  12. Yoshinori Ohsumi, Medicine, 2016
  1. Toyo Ito
  2. Kenzo Tange
  3. Fumihiko Maki

Part of Nobel prize laureates


See also

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