The University of Tokyo (東京大学 Tōkyō daigaku), abbreviated as Todai (東大 Tōdai) or UTokyo, is a public research university located in Bunkyo, Tokyo, Japan. Established in 1877 as the first imperial university, it is one of Japan’s most prestigious universities.
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 among the top echelon of the select Japanese universities assigned additional funding under the MEXT’s Top Global University Project to enhance Japan’s global educational competitiveness.
As of 2018, University of Tokyo’s alumni, faculty members and researchers include 17 Prime Ministers, 16 Nobel Prize laureates, 3 Pritzker Prize laureates, 3 astronauts, and 1 Fields Medalist.
The university was chartered by the Meiji government in 1877 under its current name by amalgamating older government schools for medicine, various traditional scholars and modern 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. The books lost included the Hoshino Library (星野文庫 Hoshino bunko), a collection of about 10,000 books. 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.
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. 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.
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. In 2014, the School of Science at the University of Tokyo introduced an all-English undergraduate transfer program called Global Science Course (GSC).