Japan is one of the best countries for studying abroad. It's safe, economically stable, technologically advanced, culturally rich, and innovative. If you love math, design, and Japanese culture, architecture can be your choice to learn in Japanese universities.
Japanese architecture always has distinct features, from ancient temples and castles to modern towers. It has a wide variety of architectural styles and influences, blending traditional and modern architecture very well. Those buildings are not only aesthetically pleasing but also full of Japanese philosophy.
With technological advancement and continuous improvement, Japanese architects are at the forefront of innovative building techniques, from earthquake-resistant buildings to energy-efficient designs. Studying architecture in Japan allows students to learn about and work with cutting-edge technologies and approaches that may not be available elsewhere.
Check out these recommended universities for architecture programs.
The University of Tokyo is one of the most prestigious universities in Japan. Built in 1877, Todai (short for Tokyo Daigaku, its name in Japanese) produced 13 Nobel Prize awardees, 15 Japan’s prime ministers, and many more notable alumni. It offers a supportive learning environment with excellent facilities and reputable lecturers.
Photo: University of Tokyo
Currently, the University of Tokyo is considered number 1 in Japan, 13 in Asia, and 71 in the world for architecture study. The languages of instruction are Japanese and English so that students can learn in a global environment. As of May 2022, the Department of Architecture is one of the top 5 departments with the most international students, which is 127 students. Overall, there are about 1,000 international students at the University of Tokyo.
Potential students can apply through special admission with scholarships, such as Japanese government Scholarships/MEXT (undergraduate and graduate program) and Global 30 Special English Program for Architecture and Urban Design course (master’s degree).
Osaka University is not only one of the oldest universities in Japan but also among the top three Japanese public universities. Their architecture program is second to the University of Tokyo. Osaka is a perfect choice if you want to experience living in an urban area outside Tokyo.
The architecture undergraduate and graduate courses are under the Department of Architectural Engineering, Division of Global Architecture, School of Engineering. In their first year, students learn the general lesson of Engineering. They will be assigned to a specialized course in the second year.
If you want to take a program with English as the language of instruction, you can enroll in the International Program of Maritime and Urban Engineering, Division of Global Architecture. However, it’s only available for master's and doctoral degrees. You can get into either master's or doctorate courses or take a 5-year consecutive study.
Photo: Osaka University
There are various government scholarships offered for Osaka University students, such as the Japanese Government Scholarship (MEXT), CSC-OU Joint Scholarship Program (the China Scholarship Council), and Indonesia Endowment Fund for Education Scholarship (LPDP). Students can also apply for financial aid from private scholarships from the university’s information page.
The architecture program at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, also known as Tokyo Tech, is one of the oldest in Japan. Launched in 1907, the Department of Architecture and Building Engineering continues to have an excellent reputation in Japan and overseas.
Photo: Tokyo Institute of Technology
Tokyo Institute of Technology offers the Global Scientist and Engineer Program (bachelor and master degree) and the International Graduate Program (master, doctoral, and integrated doctoral degree) for students who want to learn in an international environment. All subjects in these programs will be taught in English. Students who apply for these programs can also apply for a full scholarship from the Japanese government (MEXT) or Asian Development Bank-Japan Scholarship Program (ADB-JSP).
What’s unique about Waseda University is they offer a six-year Architecture program integrating a four-year undergraduate program and a two-year graduate program. The curriculum is divided into 2 stages: the first 3 years to study the fundamentals of architecture and the next 3 years to study specialized topics in the respective laboratory of the student’s choice. It was created in 2000 and won Japan’s first certification for international standards equivalence from UNESCO and the International Union of Architects in 2009.
Photo: Waseda University
Good news for international students, Waseda University has an English-based graduate Architecture program for Master's and Doctoral. However, even if you are enrolled in a regular Japanese-based program, you will find Waseda University has an international environment. There are more than 5,400 international students, the largest in Japan.
The Department of Architecture Waseda University has many international partnerships in the form of collaborative research and the International Urban Design Workshop. Moreover, they are also involved in the restoration study of traditional buildings outside Japan, cooperating with local institutions, such as the Can Thanh Palace of the Nguyen Dynasty in Vietnam, Angkor Monuments in Cambodia, and traditional stone houses in Catalonia, Spain.
Tohoku University is one of the top universities in Japan. It's a research-oriented university with advanced resources and facilities to support academic activities. Located in Sendai, Tohoku Region, it offers a peaceful environment with beautiful nature that is good for studying.
Photo: Tohoku University
The School of Engineering is the most prominent faculty at Tohoku University. The undergraduate architecture program is managed by the Department of Civil Engineering and Architecture, while the graduate program is under the Department of Architecture and Building Science. The vision of the architecture program is to combine art and technology, regional and global, interdisciplinary and specialty, and humanity and environment. Interestingly, the School of Engineering addressed the concern of female students and established the Association of Leading Women Researchers in Engineering (ALicE) to support women in engineering studies.
To see which university suits you the best, you can visit each university’s website to read more information. Understanding the curriculum and course content is crucial because you will spend a couple of years and a lot of money studying. Feel free to contact the university via email if you have questions. The university will gladly reach back to you.
Studying architecture in Japan can be a rewarding experience for aspiring architects. From its diverse cultural influences to its focus on technology and sustainability, Japan offers a unique and valuable learning environment for students interested in pursuing a career in architecture.