Studying abroad in Tokyo has its many benefits: academically prestigious universities, delicious restaurants, efficient transportation system, etc. But for any fans of history out there, Tokyo is a hotspot for various historic and culturally significant locations!

In this article, we will cover the following universities in Tokyo and their nearby historic locations:

  1. University of Tokyo
  2. Waseda University
  3. Keio University
  4. Sophia University

Let’s take a look at these prestigious universities in Tokyo from a cultural perspective. Ready? Let’s go!

1. The University of Tokyo

While it has many campus locations, the University of Tokyo’s most iconic Hongo Campus is located in the Bunkyo Ward of the Tokyo Prefecture. This campus has various historic locations both inside and outside the campus grounds! Check out All You Need to Know About The University of Tokyo as International Students to learn more about the university!

Rikugi-en Gardens

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The construction of the garden took place between 1695 and 1702 under the supervision of Yanagisawa Yoshiyasu. It is a typical example of a daimyo garden, or a garden constructed by landlords in their estates during the Edo period. In 1953, the garden was designated as a special place of scenic beauty (特別名勝, tokubetsu meishō) by the Japanese government.

The name Rikugi-en means “Garden of the Six Principles”, reflecting the six elements in the ancient waka poetry. Centered around a small pond, the scenery of colorful trees and rolling hills is perfect to relax the mind after a busy day of university classes!

Nezu Shrine

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Established in 1705, the Nezu Shrine is one of the oldest places of worship in the city. It is famous for its annual Azalea Festival (Tsutsuji Matsuri) for the beautiful spring scenery and is one of the Tokyo Ten Shrines (東京十社, Tokyo Jissha)!

The shrine is comprised of four main architectural elements:

  • Series of gates (torii) = traditional Japanese gates that are characteristic of Shinto shrines and which symbolically marks the transition from the mundane to the sacred
  • Tower gate (rōmon) = a two storied gate which originated in Buddhist architecture
  • Main hall (honden) = the center building of prayer and worship
  • Chinese gate (karamon) = 200 meter wall surrounding the honden

Statue of Hachiko

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Perhaps you are familiar with the name Hachiko from recent film adaptations of the timeless Japanese story. Hachiko was a Japanese Akita dog honored for his remarkable loyalty to his owner, Hidesaburō Ueno. For 9 years after Ueno’s death, Hachiko waited for the return of his deceased owner in front of the train station until his own death in 1935.

In 2015, the University of Tokyo built a statue of Hichiko reuniting with his beloved owner, who happened to be a professor at the university. It is a heartwarming symbol of hope and family loyalty.

2. Waseda University

The main campus of the Waseda University is located the Shinjuku Ward of the Tokyo Prefecture. Founded in 1882, the Waseda University has various historic locations within the main campus, as well as in its surrounding areas. Learn more about the university at Waseda University: Top Universities in Tokyo.

Toden Arakawa Line

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The Toden Arakawa Line, nicknamed the Sakura Tram, is one of the only remaining streetcars in Tokyo. The current line runs from Minowabashi Station in Arakawa Ward to Waseda Station, directly in front of the Waseda Campus. The tram is known for its scenic views lined by colorful roses!

The Waseda University History for Tomorrow Museum

A picture of the famous Okuma Statue and Okuma Auditorium
Waseda University, Waseda Campus

The Waseda University History for Tomorrow Museum provides a unique glance into the university’s history in respect to the current research and activities occurring on the campus. As it is located within the Waseda Campus, the information contained in the museum seems to come to life all around you! There are also gift shops and theater rooms for untraditional ways to enjoy the “museum” experience.

Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum

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The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum is dedicated to theatrical accomplishments of Waseda University. Open since 1928, it contains artifacts and information on the history of drama. The building itself has a rustic feel that reflects the architecture of theaters in the early 20th century.

The theater is named after Professor Tsubouchi Shōyō, a famous lecturer at the Waseda University. He wrote the first major work of modern Japanese literary criticism, became the pioneer in translating the complete works of William Shakespeare, and helped to create the modern Japanese theatre.

3. Keio University

This private university stands proudly in Minato Ward in Tokyo as the oldest institute of modern higher education in Japan. No wonder there are so many historic sights near this university! Read more about the Keio University at Study in Japan and English-based Programs: Keio University.

Atago Jinja

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No pain, no gain! To get to the beautiful Atago Jinja, you must first climb 86 steps of the “stone steps to success”!

The shrine was built under the order of shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first generation of the famous Tokugawa lineage. It was built atop the high Atago Hill to protect the newly-built capital of Edo (present day Tokyo) from fire and disasters. 

To this day, there are rituals held on the steep steps as a symbol of achieving success!

4. Sophia University

Founded by a Roman Catholic religious order in 1913, the Sophia University is known for its international programs! Its campus is located in the Chiyoda Ward, a hub for historic sights! Learn more about the university at Sophia University: What Can We Understand from Its Ranking? Why Should You Study Here?


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If you happen to be planning a trip to Japan in the early spring, then you must visit the Chidorigafuchi park with its cherry blossoms in full bloom! Chidorigafuchi is also home to a National Cemetery where the remains of unknown Japanese soldiers who died in World War II.

While visitors can stroll through the green pathways lined by cherry blossom trees, they can also choose to enjoy the scenery from a boat on the Hanzo moat. Either way, the luscious, pink scenery will surely be one to remember!

Tokyo Imperial Palace

Tokyo Imperial Palace

The Tokyo Imperial Palace is the residence of the current Emperor of Japan. The current palace grounds were the site of the Edo Castle, which was vacated by Tokugawa Yoshinobu after the Meiji Restoration, at which time the Emperor first took residence. Throughout the Meiji period, various parts of the Edo palace were destroyed for construction purposes and by natural disasters. After its complete destruction during World War II, the palace was reconstructed in the image of the old Edo Palace, with the new name “Tokyo Imperial Palace”.

While the inner grounds are off-limits for the majority of the year, visitors are free to enter the parks and gardens free of charge. The three main sections—the East Gardens, Kitanomaru Koen Park and the Kokyo Gaien National Garden—are perfect for taking refreshing jogs while being surrounded by rich history!


Be it to take a little break from your studies or to embark on a journey through Japanese history, these historic locations near the universities in Tokyo are perfect for understanding more about the rich culture of Japan!