The University of Tokyo has the largest number of Nobel Prize Laureates and Prime Ministers in Japan. Read on to find out some historical graduates of the University of Tokyo who have excelled in their respective fields and spheres!

The University of Tokyo 

The Univesity of Tokyo, often abbreviated in Japanese as Todai, is the oldest and largest national university in Japan. Currently, the university has 30,000 students with about 3,000 of those being international students. The University has 10 Faculties, 15 Graduate Schools, 11 affiliated research institutes, 13 University-wide centers, 3 affiliated libraries and 2 institutes for advanced study. The University has five main campuses located around the wider Tokyo region: Hongo Campus, Komaba Campus, Kashiwa Campus, Shirokanedai Campus, and Nakano Campus. The University of Tokyo was ranked 22nd in the world in the 2020 QS University Rankings.

In this article, we will look at some renowned Alumni from the University of Tokyo!

For Alumni of Waseda University, see the article below:

For Alumni of Sophia University, see the article below:

If you ever dream of getting into the University of Tokyo, I hope you can use this article as inspiration to fuel your studies! Who knows, you may be able to walk along the same corridors, study at the same library, or eat at the same cafeterias as these renowned individuals!

Prime Ministers

To date, the University of Tokyo has produced 18 Prime Ministers: 

  • Hara Takashi (1918–1921)
  • Katō Takaaki (1924–1926)
  • Wakatsuki Reijirō (1926-1927, 1931-1931)
  • Osachi Hamaguchi (1929–1931)
  • Kōki Hirota (1936–1937)
  • Fumimaro Konoe (1937–1939, 1940–1941)
  • Hiranuma Kiichirō (1939-1939)
  • Kijūrō Shidehara (1945–1946)
  • Shigeru Yoshida (吉田茂) (1946–1947, 1948–1954)
  • Tetsu Katayama (1947–1948)
  • Hitoshi Ashida (1948-1948)
  • Ichirō Hatoyama (1954–1956)
  • Nobusuke Kishi (岸信介) (1957–1960)
  • Eisaku Satō (佐藤栄作), Nobel laureate (1964–1972)
  • Takeo Fukuda (福田赳夫) (1976–1978)
  • Yasuhiro Nakasone (中曽根康弘) (1982–1987)
  • Kiichi Miyazawa (宮沢喜一) (1991–1993)
  • Yukio Hatoyama (鳩山由紀夫) (2009–2010)

Pick-up: Eisaku Sato  

Eisaku Sato was the 39th Prime Minister of Japan and ran for office for almost 8 years from 1964 to 1972 – the longest uninterrupted service as Japanese Prime Minister. Sato navigated Japan through a period of extensive economic growth, arranged the formal return of Okinawa, and bought Japan into the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. He was the first Asian man to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 1974. 

Nobel Prize Laureates

10 individuals who have graduated from The University of Tokyo have received Nobel prizes in their respective fields.

  • Yasunari Kawabata, Literature, 1968
  • Leo Esaki, Physics, 1973
  • Eisaku Satō, Peace, 1974
  • Kenzaburō Ōe, Literature, 1994
  • Masatoshi Koshiba, Physics, 2002
  • Yoichiro Nambu, Physics, 2008
  • Ei-ichi Negishi, Chemistry, 2010
  • Satoshi Omura, Physiology or Medicine, 2015
  • Takaaki Kajita, Physics, 2015
  • Yoshinori Ohsumi, Physiology or Medicine, 2016

Pick-up: Yasunari Kawabata

Kawabata is a Japanese novelist and writer who contributed to the golden age of modern Japanese literature. His work often combined old Japan’s beauty with modernist trends, realism, and surrealistic visions. Kawabata’s works have been translated into English and have received numerous international awards. His most notable works include Snow Country, Thousand Cranes, and The Old Capital.


Numerous notable Physicists and scientists have walked out of The University of Tokyo’s Akamon gates.

  • Akito Arima
  • Leo Esaki, Nobel laureate
  • Chūshirō Hayashi
  • Jun Kondo
  • Masatoshi Koshiba, Nobel laureate
  • Ryogo Kubo
  • Hantaro Nagaoka
  • Ukichiro Nakaya
  • Yoichiro Nambu, Nobel laureate
  • Yoshio Nishina
  • Seiji Ogawa, discoverer of fMRI
  • Shohé Tanaka
  • Morikazu Toda
  • Yoji Totsuka

Pick-up: Masatoshi Koshiba

Masatoshi Koshiba is a Japanese physicist who jointly founded the study of Neutrino astronomy, a branch of astronomy that observes astronomical objects with neutrino detectors in special observatories. As a result, scientists are now able to observe processes that are inaccessible to optical telescopes by breaking down the nuclear and cosmetic rays. Koshiba received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2002.


Lastly, here is a list of famous University of Tokyo alumni who have worked in the entertainment and the creative industries.

  • Toshiya Fujita, film director
  • Bai Guang, one of the seven great singing stars of China
  • Ai Hazuki, film director
  • Teruyuki Kagawa, actor
  • Tokiko Kato, singer
  • Rei Kikukawa, actress
  • Tamayo Marukawa, TV announcer
  • Towa Oshima, manga artist
  • Kenji Ozawa, musician
  • Nam June Paik, video artist
  • Koichi Sugiyama, music composer
  • Isao Takahata, anime director
  • Mayuko Takata, actress
  • Kiyohiko Ushihara, film director
  • Yoji Yamada, film director
  • Yoshishige Yoshida, film director
  • Anton Wicky, educator

Pick-up: Teruyuki Kagawa 

Although the University of Tokyo is known to be an extremely academic school, with not as many athletes or celebrity graduates, Kagawa is famous for being one of Japan’s top actors in both the modern film and kabuki sphere. Kagawa won the Best Supporting Actor award at the Japanese Academy Awards for his role in Mt. Tsurugidake. He has appeared in all-time Japanese classics such as Rurouni Kenshin, Snow Prince, and 20th Century Boys.


There are numerous well-known graduates from the University of Tokyo. Todai boasts the largest numbers of Prime Ministers and Nobel Prize Laureates, and this is only fitting with its unrivaled reputation as a top academic institute in Japan. However, my article does suggest that perhaps the University of Tokyo does not have as many famous athletes, artists, or celebrities when compared to the likes of Waseda University or Sophia University.

Remember to check out our articles on famous alumni of other universities throughout Japan!

Notable Alumni from Waseda University
Notable Alumni from Sophia University