Kyoto University is Japan’s second oldest university and one of Japan’s “National Seven”, founded as Kyoto Imperial University in 1897 on the island of Honshu, the nation’s ancient former capital.
Initially comprising the colleges of law, medicine, letters, and science and engineering, within two years the university had also opened a library and hospital. Soon afterwards, came faculties of economics, agriculture and humanities, while its first graduate school was launched in the mid-20th century.
Today, Kyoto has 10 faculties, 18 graduate schools and more research institutes – 14 in total – than any other Japanese university.
The institution is spread over three campuses: Yoshida, the main campus – dominated by the Clock Tower Centennial Hall, which dates back to when the university was first established – and two further bases at Uji and Katsura.
Kyoto itself is a city rich in culture and history, surrounded by mountains on three sides and bestriding the Kamo River. Architectural gems such as the Kyoto Imperial Palace – the former home of the Emperor of Japan – serve as a reminder of the city’s historical significance, while a number of its temples have been classed as Unesco World Heritage Sites.
Aside from the surroundings, many of its 23,000-strong student cohort, including around 2,000 international students, are attracted by the university’s reputation as a centre of research excellence: it has been home to nine Nobel prizewinners and two Fields medal recipients.
Kyoto University also houses the Hakubi Project, set up in 2009 to develop the talents of outstanding young researchers.
Notable alumni include film director Nagisa Oshima and novelist Kan Kikuchi.