Overview of Keio University

Keio University was founded in 1858 by renowned Japanese author and thinker, Fukuzawa Yukichi, which made the school history parallel with the modernization and industrialization process of Japan during the Meiji Restoration period.


The father of current Keio University

The first university departments at Keio were literature, law, and economics, which later became the Faculty of Letters, Faculty of Law, and Faculty of Economics/ Faculty of Business & Commerce.

History of the campus

Keio University started as Rangaku-jyuku (蘭学塾, Western School), a private school for Dutch studies. in 1858. In 1868, the school name was changed to Keio Gijuku (慶應義塾), named after the Keio era at the time. Eventually, it was moved to Mita campus in 1871. 

From then on, Mita campus has remained the main campus which is the most well-known among the public of Keio University. The current Mita campus is home to the Faculty of Letters, Faculty of Law, and Faculty of Economics/ Faculty of Business & Commerce, six graduate schools of corresponding studies, as well as Human Relations and the Law School.

Located in Tokyo, it is easily accessible by public transport. 8-minute walk from Tamachi Station (JR Yamanote Line / JR Keihin Tohoku Line), or 7-minute walk from Mita Station (Toei Asakusa Line / Toei Mita Line).

Notable Campus Landmarks

The long-standing history of the university is reflected from the entrance of the school. Maboroshi no mon: The former main gate was an original black wooden gate dated to the Edo period. The current stone gate was built in 1913. In 2000, the gate was moved to the top of a sloping stone walkway.

A very famous landmark on campus is the Mita Public Speaking Hall, which was established in 1876. Fukuzawa Yukichi adopted and initiated public speaking and debate techniques from the west in the school. It was designated an important cultural property in 1976, which acknowledged and marked its significance in bringing public speaking to education in a Japanese university. 

Inside Mita Public Speaking Hall

Of similar importance is the Old Library that cannot be missed during your campus visit. With its neo-Gothic style, red brick facade and high windows, the Old Library amazes and awes visitors with its impressive and stunning appearance that is representative of Meiji-era architecture. It was completed in 1912 as part of the university’s 50th-anniversary celebrations. While both of these facilities are not open to the public, visitors are welcome to admire the grandeur of the buildings from the outside and take photos of them. Current students use the New Library, which has 5 floors underground and has the look of a library at an American university. 

The elegant facade of the Old Library

Near the South Gate, there is a large campus square with zelkova trees that are particularly stunning in autumn when they turn yellow, which coincides with the time of Mita-sai school festival. There is also a bust of Fukuzawa Yukichi, the founder of the school, to commemorate his efforts of establishing the university as it is today. The South Building has a lovely terrace, which is accessible to the public and offers a good view towards surrounding neighborhoods of Roppongi, Azabu-Juban and Hiroo. Near the East Gate is a memorial statue for Keio students who perished during World War II.

Near the campus are Keio Girls Senior High School and Keio Chutobu Junior High School. This is because the Keio school system also incorporates secondary education, which ensures students a smooth transition from high school to university.

Keio University prides itself on having very prominent alumni, which includes three former prime ministers, two astronauts, six international honorary members of American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and many more business leaders and CEOs. The close-knitted alumni community of Keio University still stay in close contact and support with each other. The alumni often have gatherings and meetings at the Faculty Club, or the Banraisha on Mita campus. 

Famous Events On-Campus

In early August every year, the campus opens its gates to prospective students and parents to join its Open Campus days. During Open Campus days, the campus is filled with high school students who want to learn more about the admission process as well as the campus life of the school before deciding to apply for it. 

The event features mock lectures by Keio professors, consultations and chats with current students, performances of extracurricular clubs, as well as the sale of merchandise. Being one of the leading private universities in Japan, the Open Campus days of Keio always draws a large crowd of students who want to have a spot in this prestigious school.

Another well-known campus event is Mita-sai (三田祭), which is an annual 4-day school festival named after the campus held in late November. The entire campus becomes very colorful, lively and exciting with the performances and food booths of many cultural and athletic student clubs. It is estimated that 200,000 people visit Mita-sai every year, which shows the popularity of the festival to not only Keio students but also the general public who is aware of the school reputation.  Keio also hosts the Miss Keio and Mr Keio pageant contests, which attract large crowds to attend the festival and support the contestants with their online votes and cheerings. 


Mita-sai attracts huge crowds until later into the evening!

Visitors coming to Mita can buy original Keio merchandise as souvenirs at affordable prices in the University Co-op store. They can also receive pamphlets and watch videos that introduce the university history. Do you know that the official colors of the school are dark blue and yellow, as shown on its logo, and the mascot is a unicorn?

Conclusion

If you are in Tokyo around the neighborhood, it’s a nice opportunity to pay a quick visit to this beautiful campus. You will certainly enjoy learning about the history and absorbing the atmosphere of the prominent campus of a long-standing university that helped shape the foundation of modern Japanese high education.