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Best universities in Japan 2023

Find the top universities in Japan using Times Higher Education’s rankings data

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March 23 2023
Tohoku University, Japan, Rankings, University


Top 10 universities in Japan 2023

Scroll down to view universities in the top 150

Tohoku University has taken first place in the 2023 Times Higher Education Japan University Rankings.

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The rankings, now in their seventh year, were produced in partnership with the Japanese education company Benesse.

The Japan University Rankings are calculated based on four broad “pillars” (resources, engagement, outcomes and environment) covering 16 performance indicators. They differ from the THE World University Rankings in that they are more focused on what institutions offer students than on research data. Click here to read the full methodology for the Japan rankings.

Japan is a country that successfully maintains ancient traditions alongside its identity as a nation of technological innovation. This contrast can also be seen in the country’s higher-education institutions as they develop their research output and international outreach while preserving Japan’s culture and values.

Top five universities in Japan

5. Kyoto University

Kyoto University is spread across three campuses in Yoshida, Uji and Katsura. It is one of Japan’s oldest universities and is consistently ranked highly in Asia.

Kyoto University has about 22,000 students, 10 faculties, 18 graduate schools, 13 research institutes and 21 research and educational centres.

The university was initially made up of colleges in law, medicine, letters, and science and engineering. Within two years, the university opened a library and a hospital. Later, it established departments of economics, agriculture and humanities, and the first graduate school was launched in the mid-20th century.

The institution has produced a number of successful researchers, including 11 Nobel Prize winners, two Fields medallists and one Gauss Prize winner.

4. Tokyo Institute of Technology

The Tokyo Institute of Technology is a national research university located in the Greater Tokyo area. 

It is the country’s largest higher-education institution dedicated to science and technology. The university is organised into six schools, within which there are more than 40 departments and research centres. 

Nobel Prize laureate Hideki Shirakawa, co-recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2000, attended the university.

3. Osaka University

Osaka University maintains its third-place position from last year. 

Founded in 1931, the university has become one of Japan’s leading universities. It is organised into 11 faculties for undergraduate programmes and 16 graduate schools. 

The university also has six research institutes, four libraries and two university hospitals. 

Osaka University is considered one of the most selective universities in Japan, with one of the most difficult entry exams. 

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Best universities in Tokyo

2. The University of Tokyo

The University of Tokyo was the first national university in Japan when it was established in 1877.

It provides courses across the academic spectrum and has 10 faculties, 15 graduate schools, 11 affiliated research institutes (including the Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology), 13 university-wide centres, three main libraries and three institutes for advanced study. 

Students are taught at three main campuses in Hongo, Komaba and Kashiwa, but there are facilities associated with the university throughout Japan. The university has a slightly unusual course structure in that students follow a liberal arts programme at one campus during their first two years before transferring to another campus to study their chosen major.

The campuses are in close proximity to many of Tokyo’s cultural attractions including Yanesen, a district of temples, and Ueno Park, with its museums and cherry blossoms. The campuses also have good transport links to the centre of the capital.

1. Tohoku University

Many of Tohoku University’s facilities are built around and within the ancient war grounds of the city of Sendai.

In 1913, Tohoku became the first university in Japan to admit female students after the appointment in 1911 of its first president, Masataro Sawayanagi. Tohoku University was also the first university in Japan to admit international students. 

In 2009, Tohoku was one of 13 universities selected by the Japanese government to contribute to providing higher education at an international level, and the university introduced a series of degree programmes that are predominantly taught in English.

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The best universities in Japan 2023: the top 150

Click each institution to view its full profile

Rank (excel) University name Prefecture
1 Tohoku University Miyagi
2 The University of Tokyo Tokyo
3 Osaka University Osaka
4 Tokyo Institute of Technology Tokyo
5 Kyoto University Kyoto
6 Kyushu University Fukuoka
7 Hokkaido University Hokkaido
8 Nagoya University Aichi
9 University of Tsukuba Ibaraki
10 International Christian University Tokyo
11 Hiroshima University Hiroshima
12 Keio University Tokyo
13 Kobe University Hyogo
14 Waseda University Tokyo
15 Akita International University Akita
16 Hitotsubashi University Tokyo
17 Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU) Tokyo
18 Kanazawa University Ishikawa
19 Chiba University Chiba
20 Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology Tokyo
21 Okayama University Okayama
=22 Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (APU) Oita
=22 Sophia University Tokyo
24 The University of Aizu Fukushima
25 Kumamoto University Kumamoto
26 Nagasaki University Nagasaki
27 Tokyo University of Foreign Studies Tokyo
28 Yokohama National University Kanagawa
29 Kyoto Institute of Technology Kyoto
30 Nagaoka University of Technology Niigata
31 Ritsumeikan University Kyoto
32 Ochanomizu University Tokyo
33 Tokyo University of Science Tokyo
34 Shibaura Institute of Technology Tokyo
35 Toyohashi University of Technology (TUT) Aichi
36 The University of Electro-Communications Tokyo
37 Tokyo Metropolitan University Tokyo
=38 Kyushu Institute of Technology (Kyutech) Fukuoka
=38 Yokohama City University Kanagawa
=40 Osaka Metropolitan University Osaka
=40 Rikkyo University Tokyo
42 Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology Tokyo
43 Doshisha University Kyoto
44 Kwansei Gakuin University Hyogo
=45 Fukuoka Women’s University Fukuoka
=45 Meiji University Tokyo
=47 Kanda University of International Studies Chiba
=47 Nagoya City University Aichi
=49 Gakushuin University Tokyo
=49 Nagoya Institute of Technology Aichi
51 Niigata University Niigata
52 Aoyama Gakuin University Tokyo
53 Shinshu University Nagano
54 Chuo University Tokyo
55 Obihiro University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine Hokkaido
=56 Kansai Gaidai University Osaka
=56 Nanzan University Aichi
58 Gunma University Gunma
=59 Hosei University Tokyo
=59 Yamaguchi University Yamaguchi
=61 Akita University Akita
=61 Nara Women’s University Nara
=61 St Luke’s International University Tokyo
=61 Yamagata University Yamagata
65 Kagoshima University Kagoshima
=66 University of Fukui Fukui
=66 Kansai University Osaka
=66 Saga University Saga
69 Tsuda University Tokyo
70 Kindai University Osaka
=71 University of Toyama Toyama
=71 Utsunomiya University Tochigi
73 Hirosaki University Aomori
74 Soka University Tokyo
=75 Kobe City University of Foreign Studies Hyogo
=75 Toyota Technological Institute Aichi
=77 Saitama University Saitama
=77 Tottori University Tottori
=79 Gifu University Gifu
=79 Kyoto University of Foreign Studies Kyoto
=81 Aichi Prefectural University Aichi
=81 Juntendo University Tokyo
83 Shimane University Shimane
84 Toyo University Tokyo
85 Shizuoka University Shizuoka
86 Musashi University Tokyo
87 The University of Kitakyushu Fukuoka
88 Kagawa University Kagawa
=89 Iwate University Iwate
=89 Shiga University of Medical Science Shiga
91 Tokushima University Tokushima
92 Mie University Mie
=93 Ehime University Ehime
=93 Future University Hakodate Hokkaido
=93 University of Yamanashi Yamanashi
=96 University of Hyogo Hyogo
=96 Kochi University of Technology Kochi
98 University of the Ryukyus Okinawa
99 Nagoya University of Commerce & Business Aichi
100 Nagoya University of Foreign Studies Aichi
101-110 Dokkyo University Saitama
101-110 Hamamatsu University School of Medicine Shizuoka
101-110 Ibaraki University Ibaraki
101-110 Kochi University Kochi
101-110 Meiji Gakuin University Tokyo
101-110 University of Miyazaki Miyazaki
101-110 Ryukoku University Kyoto
101-110 Sapporo Medical University Hokkaido
101-110 University of Shizuoka Shizuoka
101-110 Showa Women’s University Tokyo
111-120 Chukyo University Aichi
111-120 Fukushima Medical University Fukushima
111-120 J. F. Oberlin University Tokyo
111-120 Kitami Institute of Technology Hokkaido
111-120 Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine Kyoto
111-120 Kyoto Sangyo University Kyoto
111-120 University of Niigata Prefecture Niigata
111-120 Nippon Medical School Tokyo
111-120 Reitaku University Chiba
111-120 Seinan Gakuin University Fukuoka
111-120 Tokyo Woman’s Christian University Tokyo
121-130 Aichi Medical University Aichi
121-130 Akita Prefectural University Akita
121-130 Doshisha Women’s College of Liberal Arts Kyoto
121-130 Kanagawa University Kanagawa
121-130 Kanazawa Institute of Technology (KIT) Ishikawa
121-130 Musashino University Tokyo
121-130 University of Occupational and Environmental Health, Japan Fukuoka
121-130 Oita University Oita
121-130 Tokyo International University Saitama
131-140 Fukuoka University Fukuoka
131-140 Fukushima University Fukushima
131-140 Jikei University School of Medicine Tokyo
131-140 Muroran Institute of Technology Hokkaido
131-140 Prefectural University of Hiroshima Hiroshima
131-140 Shiga University Shiga
131-140 Teikyo University Tokyo
131-140 Tokyo University of Agriculture Tokyo
131-140 Tokyo City University Tokyo
131-140 Tsuru University Yamanashi
141-150 Asia University Tokyo
141-150 Fujita Health University Aichi
141-150 Fukuoka Institute of Technology Fukuoka
141-150 Kitasato University Tokyo
141-150 Kogakuin University Tokyo
141-150 Konan University Hyogo
141-150 Meijo University Aichi
141-150 Nihon University Tokyo
141-150 Tokai University Kanagawa
141-150 Tokyo Medical University Tokyo

See the full Japan University Rankings here

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