The Founding of Japan’s First Private Physics Institution

The Tokyo University of Science was founded in 1881 under the then title of “Tokyo Butsurigaku Koshujo” (東京物理学講習所) by 21 graduates of Tokyo Imperial University.  They wished to provide free physics classes as they were of the belief that the democratization of the sciences would create a better future for the nation.  Many of these founders would pass on into Meiji Era legend, one president’s friendship allegedly having been the inspiration for novelist Natsume Soseki’s (夏目 漱石) main character in his I am a Cat (吾輩は猫である).  Classes were taught for free, students being late was unacceptable and teachers were fined if they skipped a lecture.  A different time, but one which set the foundations for one of the best privately funded science institutions in the world.

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The Modern Day TUC Physics Education Format

Having initiated itself as an institution devoted to physics, a brief synopsis of its physics program seems appropriate.  Right now, TUS ranks in the top 30 universities in Japan (according to the Times Higher Education World Universities Ranking system) and much of that is based upon its research in the hard sciences.  Apart from being the only private university in Asia to boast a Nobel Prize recipient, TUS has one of the best research departments in the world.  Much of that is due to the organizational flexibility of its research departments as well as state of the art facilities and equipment.  Undergraduates begin their studies in the fundamentals, most prominently in mathematics.  By their third or fourth year students are encouraged to pursue interests in many of the sub-fields within the discipline, broken up into Earth & Space, Nucleus / Elementary Particles, Biophysics, and both Condensed Matter (Theory / Experiment).  Within each of these subcategories are multiple research groups headed by one of the professors of the university.  These research groups are focused on graduate level work, however, undergraduate assistance and support is an implemented portion of their purpose.  Each research group is named after the professor in charge of that particular task, and these professors also lecture at the undergraduate level so building a relationship would not be difficult to do before choosing which research group one wishes to pursue.  TUC promotes the intercommunication between these different research groups in an attempt to satiate the curiosities of those involved, as well as to foster an intellectual community within the larger field.  This aspect is not exclusive to the physics department alone, but something that the university actively promotes throughout the campus.  Thus, it is not very difficult for students to wander through the different fields of research that TUC has to offer.

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In order for all this research to be conducted, TUC has funded several research centers devoted to its various fields of research.  The most recent of which had been completed in 2006 with the self admitted understanding that constant improvement is a requirement in fields of science.  There is also the Research Institute for Science and Technology which houses several Research Centers and Research Divisions within those Centers, far too scientific for a liberal arts major such as myself to understand.  All in all, TUC understands that in order to push the limits of the sciences and technologies, top of the line research facilities are a must, and these are open to the many curious and responsible students at TUC.

Admissions Procedure and Financial and Housing Assistance

Oddly, TUC has broken up its physics departments in three different faculties.  They are both physics and applied physics in the Faculty of Science Division I and physics at the Faculty of Science and Technology.  The differences between which I don’t know the particulars of, but Japanese universities usually accept students on a faculty by faculty basis.  Typically this would be more diverse, but seeing as TUC is predominantly a research institution and that one of their specialties is research in physics, the subtle differences between each faculty may be vast for those more well acquainted with the subject.  However, of the 16 overall applicants in 2018, 9 were accepted.  Tuition is ¥1,305,000 per year with a ¥300,000 admission fee.  All first year student applicants for tuition reduction are accepted at a rate of 30%!  Second years and beyond are granted up to a 50% reduction – however, grades and proof of financial strains are required.  There are several options when it comes to dormitories from very large dorm buildings to Japanese style share-houses.  For those who wish to rent their own apartment, TUC offers assistance for those who qualify.