The University of Tokyo has positioned itself as the most prestigious university in Japan for more than a decade now. Although its prestige may be a good indicator of the rich student life on campus, it is better to hear actual stories from actual students of the university to check if you’re compatible with the university’s campus culture. This is why for this article, we have compiled stories shared by some of the international students of The University of Tokyo. Check out their stories and learn more about the campus life in The University of Tokyo!

Yulia Ramawati from Indonesia

Daily Life in UTokyo

If you are a student, then you know how life as a student is – not much exciting things happen on a daily basis. But life as a graduate student is different than undergraduate. Instead of going from one class to another and hang out with friends in between, my life as a graduate student revolves around the laboratory.

My day always starts with squeezing myself inside the crowded train to reach the university. Then, I stay in the laboratory doing some experiments. Experiments could take from two hours until the whole day. Aside from doing experiments, I also have ‘zemi’ or lab seminar and journal seminar. Two days to three days a week, I have classes.

Sometimes when I have time I will meet with my friends from different graduate schools during lunch break and eat together. This is my favorite part of the day, when I can relax and just chatting with my friends.

Favorite Places in the Campus

My favorite places in the University grounds are the dining halls, Sanshiro Pond, and the Gym.

Even though I rarely eat in the dining hall as I usually bring my own lunch, but I try to make time to eat lunch with my friends in the dining halls or cafeteria because they have Halal menus. As a Muslim, I am really grateful that my university care about their students’ needs and provide Halal menu.

Sanshiro Pond, formerly known as Iketokuen Shinji-ike, a small pond surrounded by Iketokuen garden was built in 1638. The pond, which is located in the heart of Hongo Campus, is like a hidden oasis with clear water where Koi fish, turtles and other water creatures swim freely. This pond offers a beautiful view which changes along the changing of the season. It is green, refreshing and calm during summer (but beware of mosquitoes!) and painted red, yellow and orange in autumn. The pond is a perfect place to just sit and relax, enjoying the nature and just to take a break between classes and experiments.

I’d like to say that from these three places, the gym or Gotenshita Memorial Arena is my number one favorite. The gym has training room equipped with cardio machine, strength machines, free weights and other equipment. It also has a studio room, pool, gymnasium, wall climbing and bouldering facility and so on. The gym is the perfect place to release all the stress by doing exercise.

Pongadisorn Jamerbsin from Thailand

Daily Routines

Each semester is different. In the first semester, I lived at the university’s international dormitory and took an intensive Japanese course at my university’s Japanese language education center. I had classes and homework every weekday. I also enjoyed the times I spent with friends from the same floor. We hung out or traveled whenever we can. Watching horror movies with people from all over the world can actually be an eye-opener.

During the school break, sometimes I join cultural exchange events. One time, I helped Japanese high school students make a presentation about my country’s history, which made me look at my country in a different light.

The second semester I moved into a shared apartment and started taking classes at my graduate school. I still took Japanese classes, but a lot less than the previous semester, which consequently gave me more free time. Sometimes I take walks, exploring Tokyo one house at a time. There was even a time when I walked 12 kilometers. Tourist attractions are nice, but so are middle-of-nowheres. Sometimes I go to the faculty of letters library and read classics like Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow.

Sometimes I cook something simple, sometimes I eat out. Tokyo is an international city. If you can’t live without your country’s cuisine, it’s very easy and affordable to find ingredients. Eating out can be expensive, but most Japanese cooks take pride in their work, sometimes to a religious level, and you can rest assured that you get clean and high quality food every time you eat out.

Favorite Places in the Campus

My favorite places in and around the school, in no particular order, are:

1. The central library. I am a history buff so just being in a building with that much history makes me feel at ease.

2. The faculty of letters library. I am keen on literature so being surrounded by that many classics makes me feel so good. The smell is just heavenly, too. I prefer reading the classics there rather than borrowing them.

3. Oishii-ya Chinese Restaurant, just opposite the main campus’s main gate. My mother is Chinese, and I have eaten a lot of Chinese food in my life. I think this is the best Chinese food I have ever had. This place serves Sichuan Chinese food. The price is reasonable and the portions are very generous. I often go here with my Thai friends.

Where I Live

I now live in a shared apartment at a quiet residential area along the Yamanote Line. I share this spacious apartment with four Thai friends who are studying at the same university as me. It is within walking distance from the main campus and just one train line to the second biggest campus. Though sharing apartments, you can actually live in spacious room in nice areas with reasonable rents. Normally, if you live alone, you live in small rooms far from train stations with hefty rents. Welcome to Tokyo.