Division of Department of Global Humanities Department of Cultural Anthropology

We aim to understand people’s world views and values through their life habits

What do you think of when you hear the words “cultural anthropology”? You would not be entirely wrong if you imagine a whimsical scholar travelling to some faraway land to observe strange local customs. Cultural anthropologists strive to uncover the meaning those ostensibly peculiar life habits hold for local peoples and reconstruct their world views and values. Persistent fieldwork is required to achieve this understanding; the scholar must spend significant time among local populations, minutely observe their everyday lives, and listen to what they have to say. If you wish to run away from Japan, dive into an unfamiliar realm, and witness unusual manners and habits, then the field of anthropology suits you well. Students of our department start practical training in the field during their third year. Many of them make short trips abroad or enroll in longer-term exchange programs. Some of them later use this experience to work in mass communications or non-governmental organizations, while others enter graduate school to become researchers. Would you like to join us? Check out our site before you give the answer:

Message from Senior


3rd grade, Humanities and Social Sciences
High school : Iwate Prefectural Miyako

Recommended book : The Chrysanthemum and the Sword: Patterns of Japanese Culture by Ruth Benedict
Reason : The book was written by the American anthropologist Ruth Benedict in the middle of the Second World War as an attempt to understand the enemy country of Japan. We Japanese cannot help being impressed by this minute portrait of our nation. I believe it can be used to study the perspective of “the Other” that is indispensable to any university-level research.

Highlights of the Faculty of Arts and Letters

Our department can be described with a single word — “interesting”. It has many fascinating points, for instance fieldwork as a preferred research method or an abundance of overseas study programs. But the most important point, I think, is that you can let your intellectual curiosity run free and delve deeply into phenomena that other disciplines refuse to study closely. The field for data collection can be found anywhere. Anything related to “culture” can become an object of study: race, gender, food, family relationships, and others. This freedom is one of the major appeals of cultural anthropology. On top of that, the Faculty of Arts and Letters runs several inter-department exchange programs in collaboration with foreign universities, so it is a good place for those who want to study abroad.

To everyone aiming for the Faculty of Arts and Letters

I have two pieces of advice. You should read as much as you can and you should polish your English. I entered the university by passing the Type 2 AO (admission office) Entrance Exam, and my voracious reading habit was a great advantage during both the written exam and the interview. You are probably busy now, but even reading little by little will eventually prove useful. Additionally, English proficiency becomes one of the determining factors when students are assigned to departments at the start of their second year. You might not be able to enter the department of your choice because of a lack of English skills. Studying at the department, too, requires using English in various contexts. It can be very hard —I speak from my own experience here. The earlier you start working on your English, the better. I hope all of you will enjoy your time as students at Tohoku University!