As the University of Tokyo was the first modern Japanese university established by the Imperial family, its campus grounds nowadays hold an immense historical significance that still charm and awe students and visitors.
Hongo Campus, the flagship campus of the University of Tokyo, used to be the official residence site of the Kaga domain during the Edo period. Several historical landmarks of interest from the days of the Kaga domain can still be found on campus today, which are the Red Gate, and Sanshiro Pond. The pond has the official name of Ikutokuen Shinji-ike, but it has become widely known as Sanshiro Pond following the publication of the novel Sanshiro by the renowned Japanese novelist Natsume Soseki.
Due to the Great Kanto Earthquake that happened on September 1, 1923, most of the buildings and structures on campus that belonged to the Meiji era were destroyed to rubris. In the year following the earthquake, the efforts to reconstruct the campus buildings took place under the supervision of Yoshikazu Uchida, who was a professor in the Faculty of Engineering and later became the 14th President of the university.
Thanks to these efforts, the majority of the Hongo section of the campus was completed by the end of 1940s. This section also largely survived the bombing raids and damages of World War II, and its buildings, called the “Uchida Gothic” style, are still standing proudly through the test of time and witnessing generations of students that attend the University of Tokyo.
Many buildings on campus are designated important cultural heritage, or even National Treasures of Japan thanks to their outstanding architectural design and historical significance. Hongo Campus is home to many interesting landmarks. The famous symbol of Hongo campus, as well as the University of Tokyo in general, is the eminent Yasuda Auditorium in the middle of the campus. It was built in 1925 thanks to the donations of Zenjiro Yasuda, the founder of the Yasuda business conglomerate. It is said that professor/architect Yoshikazu Uchida took inspiration from the gate tower of Cambridge University. Yasuda Auditorium has stood through many ups and downs of time, notably the Todai Riots between 1968 and 1969, after which it required extensive maintenance to restore its appearance to what it looks like now.
Nowadays, Hongo Campus is the main campus for undergraduate students in their third and fourth year, as well as graduate and doctorate students. Every year, the popular May Festival is held on this campus and attracts large crowds of students, parents and the general public. The campus is especially stunning in the fall as the row of ginkgo (maidenhair) trees, called the “ginkgo avenue” turn yellow and give the campus a romantic look.
Since the time of the 8th Tokugawa Shogun, Yoshimune in the beginning of the 18th century, the Komaba campus area has been used as a hunting preserve for the shogun clan. At that time, the hunting preserve occupied 50 hectares and covered the current Komaba campus, Komaba park, the Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology and other areas.
The first faculty that was established on the current campus site was the Komaba School of Agriculture in 1878 during the Meiji era. This school was later renamed to the Faculty of Agriculture at Tokyo Imperial University.
On the current campus, no buildings from the old era survived as they were either destroyed by the fire during World War II or torn down afterwards. However, Komaba campus still retains its charming lush greenery and landscape.
In 1935, Tokyo Imperial University and the First Higher School of Japan reached an agreement on land exchange and the Faculty of Agriculture was relocated. Not long after, following the end of World War II, the First Higher School of Japan was incorporated into the University of Tokyo. Later on, in modern times, the College of Arts and Sciences and other more recent faculties were established here.
Komaba campus is where undergraduate students spend their first and second year before they continue their studies at Hongo campus. International undergraduate students at the University of Tokyo are familiar with this campus through the PEAK at Komaba program. Regarding students’ activities, if Hongo campus has the May Festival, Komaba campus also attracts large crowds to its annual Komaba festival in November every year similar to other schools and universities across Japan.
Kashiwa Campus is the youngest campus compared to its historic predecessor campuses of the University of Tokyo.
The campus started to come into being as the university acquired land surrounding Kashiwanoha Park in 1995 and then some parts of Kashiwa City in Chiba Prefecture in 1998 in order to build a new campus. In 2000, the Institute for Cosmic Ray Research and the Institute for Solid State Physics were moved to this new campus, which gives the campus a reputation for being a center of cutting-edge technology and scientific research.
It has become home for graduate schools and research institutes related to natural sciences, information technology, and environmental studies. Now, it is the research base for more than 3,000 students, researchers, and administrative staff.
Parallel to a long history of establishment and development spanning almost 150 years of the University of Tokyo are the interesting campuses of the university itself. Each campus holds many dear memories of generations of students who have proudly called the school their alma mater. It is hoped that the traditions and the passion for learning will always live on at this prestigious and beautiful university.