Kyoto University is located in Kyoto city, the capital of Kyoto Prefecture. Famous for being the former imperial capital city of Japan for more than 1,000 years, Kyoto is recorded to have a high turnout of foreigners annually. With a total number of 87 million Japanese and international tourists visiting Kyoto per year, it is one of the world’s leading tourist destinations that boasts a surprising number of 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Although Kyoto is especially known for its historic sites such as countless temples and shrines, it still has a modern face with an international atmosphere. While modern development has hidden much of Tokyo’s historical heritage, Kyoto is still brimming with traditional Japanese culture. Living and studying in Kyoto allows you to learn a lot about Japan’s culture in general, and Kyoto’s heritage in specific.

Golden Temple Kyoto

Furthermore, Kyoto has the highest concentration of university students of any prefecture. It is estimated that among every 100 Kyoto residents, 5.35 of them are tertiary students, according to education ministry data shown on the Stats Japan website (2017). This is an indicator of its academic quality and vitality.

Also because Kyoto University is located in Kyoto, a smaller city compared to Tokyo or Osaka, you can expect the living expenses to be lower. This is also convenient as you can go to the school campus to study without worrying about congestion in public transportation. Despite being a small city, Kyoto still has a vibrant international community. With the city overflowing with foreign residents, international students can still expect to have access to a myriad of part-time job opportunities.

History and Rankings

For the past 20 years, Kyoto University has been renowned for its innovative academic and technological advancements. It is also actively opening a wide range of English-taught courses, resulting in a rich diversity of academic bodies and a global environment.

Founded in June 1897, Kyoto University has a long history of teaching and research. The university’s reputation speaks for itself through its award-winning scholars: 10 Nobel Prize laureates, 2 Fields Medalists, 1 Gauss Prize winner, and 5 Lasker Award winners. Many of its graduates now serve important roles in both national and international affairs, in politics, industry, and society.

According to Times Higher Education’s Japan University Rankings 2020, Kyoto University ranked 1st, and its international students represented 10.3% of the student population. As of today, Kyoto University is comprised of 10 faculties, 18 graduate schools, 13 research institutes, and 22 educational institutes and other establishments. Of the 23,000 students currently enrolled in the university, 2,700 of them came from overseas, representing 110 nations and regions.

Campuses and Facilities

Kyoto University has three campuses: Yoshida, Uji, and Katsura, as well as a number of facilities located throughout Japan.

  1. Yoshida Campus
    Yoshida Campus has been the core of the University since its founding in 1897, serving as a center of teaching and research. This campus is home to various architectural styles, ranging from the classic to the modern ones. The unique feature that makes Yoshida campus become distinguished from others is the Clock Tower Centennial Hall, which has become the symbol of the university.
  2. Uji Campus
    At Uji campus, there is a collection of research institutes, centers, and large-scale testing facilities which are used to natural science and the related fields.
  3. Katsura Campus
    Katsura campus consists of four clusters (A, B, C, D). Known as a “Techno-science Hill”, this campus impresses people with its unique architectural styles, in which nature, technology, and science are mixed interestingly.
Kyoto University has many sakura trees on campus.

Kyoto University Co-op

Students can also make use of the university’s co-op that sells essential goods and books for a discounted price. Students can apply to become Co-op members, with the membership fee for international students is ¥4,000. Then you can buy items such as books, stationery, food, drink, PC, CD, medicine in co-op stores on campuses at 10-20% discount.


Kyoto University has seven residential facilities available for international students, located in the Shugakuin, Yoshida, Uji, Ohbaku, Misasagi, Hyakumanben, and Okazaki areas of Kyoto. Among the international houses, Yoshida International House and Uji International House are located on-campus. Others are located at off-campus sites. The maximum duration of stay at the International houses is one year, after which students have to move out to apartments.

Does Kyoto University support international students in finding apartments after moving out?

Yes! They are always here to help you with any concerns during your time in Kyoto. It is suggested you visit Kyoto University Co-op or the following site for housing-related support:

Degrees and Programs

Being a part of the Top Global University project launched by the Japanese Government, Kyoto University promises to deliver its top-notch education in English-based courses, with talented professors from top-tier institutions around the world. In this article, we will introduce to you the main English programs for international students. Visit the following pages for details.

Undergraduate Program: Engineering

Graduate Programs:

In addition, Kyoto University has some English programs in Liberal Arts and General Education.

To cater to the growing demand for bilingual higher education, Kyoto University launched its new International Undergraduate Program (iUP) in 2017. This is a 4.5-year program comprised of six months of preparatory studies followed by four years of undergraduate education. As a unique program designed to nurture globally-minded professionals and leaders, Kyoto University has attracted a diverse student population with a high level of international exposure. Students are not required to have Japanese language ability when applying as they can take beginner Japanese classes after enrollment. International students can undertake their studies and research in both Japanese and English.

International students can also participate in exchange programs offered by Kyoto University and its partner institutions. With 173 universities, 4 university alliances and 16 other institutions (193 in total) in 54 different countries and regions, Kyoto is absolutely a desirable destination for you to get involved in a global environment!

Want to see the list of partner institutions with which Kyoto University has concluded a student exchange agreement? Please visit here.

Online Courses

Want to study at Kyoto University but you live afar?
Don’t worry because Kyoto University has its Global Educational Outreach. Via this program, many international students choose to sign in Kyoto University’s online courses for education annually.

As of December 2017, KyotoUx offers 12 free online courses on edX in a wide variety of fields.
As of March 2017, 716 online lectures are available through the KyotoU Open Courseware to bring a wide range of fascinating learning options.

You can visit the links above to sign up, and enroll in Kyoto’s online courses. In this way, you are still able to build a network of international friends that are not only currently studying at Kyoto University, but also live afar just like you!

Extra-Curricular Activities

This is an important part of every single student’s campus life. You might be really curious about the clubs and organizations that are there in Kyoto University!

You can have a plethora of opportunities to make memories with your international peers. There are nearly 200 cultural and athletic student clubs and circles on and off-campus, covering every field of interest. No matter how long you study at Kyoto University, you can still join clubs that suit your interests. You can also join events that are hosted by Japnese students too. You can either choose to become a core member by undergoing the organizations’ application process or simply be a participant in their events.

Please refer to the following page to learn about university-recognized clubs and circles.
Extracurricular activities

Let’s hear what other students say about Kyoto University at the Kyoto University Community Page!

You can refer to Kyoto University for International Students’ series with part 2 here, with more interesting insights waiting for you to be discovered!