The rankings, now in their third year, were produced in partnership with Japanese education company Benesse.
The Japan University Rankings are calculated based on four broad “pillars” (resources, engagement, outcomes and environment) covering 16 performance indicators. They differ from the THE World University Rankings in that they are more focused on what institutions offer students rather than on research data. Click here to read the full methodology for the Japan rankings.
This year THE has also used responses from seven questions in the Japan Student Survey to find out what students think of the teaching at their university. The survey was completed by 37,000 students from more than 400 universities across Japan. Most information on the survey and the questions included can be found here.
Japan is a country that successfully maintains ancient traditions alongside its identity as a nation of technological innovation. This contrast can also be seen in the country’s higher education institutions as they develop their research output and international outreach while preserving Japan’s cultures and values.
Top five universities in Japan
Scroll down to view universities in the top 150
1. Kyoto University
Kyoto University is spread across three campuses in Yoshida, Uji and Katsura. It is one of Japan’s oldest universities and is consistently ranked highly in Asia.
Kyoto has about 22,000 students, 10 faculties, 19 graduate schools, 13 research institutes and 21 research and educational centres.
The university was initially made up of colleges in law, medicine, letters, and science and engineering. Within two years, the university opened a library and a hospital. Later, it established faculties in economics, agriculture and humanities and the first graduate school was launched in the mid-20th century.
The institution has produced a number of successful researchers including 10 Nobel prizewinners, two Fields medallists and one Gauss prizewinner.
2. The University of Tokyo
The University of Tokyo became the first national university in Japan when it was established in 1877.
It provides courses across the academic spectrum and currently has 10 faculties, 15 graduate schools, 11 affiliated research institutes (including the Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology), 13 university-wide centres, three libraries and two institutes for advanced study.
Students are taught at three main campuses in Hongo, Komaba and Kashiwa but there are facilities associated with the university throughout Japan. The university has a slightly unusual course structure in that students follow a liberal arts education at one campus during their first two years before transferring to another campus to study their chosen major.
The campuses are in close proximity to many of Tokyo’s cultural attractions including Yanesen, a town of temples, and Ueno Park, with its museums and cherry blossoms. The campuses also have good transport links to the centre of the capital.
3. Tohoku University
Many of Tohoku University’s facilities are built around and within the ancient war grounds of the city of Sendai.
In 1913, Tohoku became the first university in Japan to admit female students after the appointment in 1911 of its first president, Masataro Sawayanagi, the vice-minister of education. Tohoku was also the first university in Japan to admit foreign students.
In 2009, Tohoku University was one of 13 universities selected by the Japanese government to contribute to providing higher education at an international level, and the university introduced a series of degree programmes that are predominantly taught in English.
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4. Kyushu University
Kyushu University has moved up one place this year, from last year's number five to number four this year.
The university has international students from all over the world. The number of foreign students continues to rise year-on-year.
There are 7.5 million items in the Kyushu University Museum including documents, archaeological artefacts and an insect collection of more than 4 million specimens.
=5. Hokkaido University
Hokkaido University was founded in 1876 and is located in Sapporo, Hokkaido. It is a member of the Imperial Universities, which were established to be the nation's finest institutes of higher education or research.
There are 14 faculties and 22 graduate schools. The university also offers English postgraduate degree programmes in agriculture, chemical sciences and engineering, engineering, environmental science, life sciences, science and veterinary medicine.
The university has two campuses in Japan – in Sapporo and Hakodate – and overseas offices in Seoul, Helsinki, Beijing, Lusaka, Bandung, Quezon City and Kamphaeng Saen.
=5. Nagoya University
Nagoya University is located in Chikusa-ku, Nagoya.
The majority of students come from the Tokai region but a good portion of students come from all over Japan. There are also more than 1,300 international students from 78 countries.
The university is one of the most selective in Japan and its entrance exam is considered one of the most difficult.
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