Division of Department of Japanese Studies Department of History of Japanese Thought

History as the Key to Uncovering the Meaning of What It Is to Be Japanese

As a field of study, the history of Japanese thought compares “Japanese” ways of thinking with those of various other countries and nations with the aim to give an objective historical account of “Japanese” mentality and values, as well as various attempts to relativize those concepts. Addressing questions such as “What does it mean to be a human?”; “What does it mean to be Japanese?”; “How are connections formed between people?”, it tries to find the answers by following and explaining the workings of thought and cultural processes that marked the history of this archipelago from ancient times to the present.
This department was opened in 1923, one of the first in Japan. It has remained the center of the corresponding research up to the present, serving as a starting point for many outstanding scholars in Japan and abroad. Graduate and exchange students comprise a considerable part of our department — moreover, our graduates currently work in education, and in the public as well as the private sector, including trading companies, banking, mass communications, and publishing.
Students of our department engage in all kinds of activities apart from classes: they hold regular research meetings and reading groups, publish scholarly journals, and participate in baseball tournaments and outdoor parties like cherry-blossom viewing and imoni-kai.

Message from Senior


3rd grade, Humanities and Social Sciences
High school : Okayama Joto

Recommended book : Kōri no Kujira (Ice Whale) by Tsujimura Mizuki
Reason : It is a tale of slightly aloof girl. It is hard to open your heart to reality — the struggle is starkly vivid in this story, which left a deep impression on me. It is one of those books I treasure.

Highlights of the Faculty of Arts and Letters

There are many majors to choose from at our Faculty, from psychology and religious studies, to the history of Japanese thought, Japanese literature, and art history. There are 25 of them in total. Few faculties offer so many diverse specialties. As a matter of fact, I am myself interested in so many areas of study, that I have trouble deciding which courses to take each year. A course is always fascinating when you are interested in the respective field of study. At this faculty you will find an opportunity to study and to learn whatever you want to know. I hope you will join us soon.

To everyone aiming for the Faculty of Arts and Letters

I suppose you are all studying now for your entrance examinations. It must be so hard. I remember my own efforts at the time. It scares me even now to think how focused I was back then. It is, of course, important to study, but it is equally important to take a pause occasionally. Please take care to do so even as you work, and leave yourself some breathing space. You have to enjoy high school life while you have it. Since exams cause so much stress, you have all the more reason to enjoy yourself to the fullest. Otherwise the pressure will make you collapse. This is what happened to me. Please relax and make lots of fond memories before you join us at the university. We are rooting for you.