1. Waseda University (Tokyo)
The founder of Waseda University, Okuma Shigenobu, looks ahead to the clock tower.
Located in the heart of Tokyo, Waseda University is one of Japan’s top private universities and is regarded as one of the best throughout the country as well as the world. In 2010, Waseda had 4,710 international students, making it the university with the highest foreign-enrolled population in all of Japan. There are several English-language departments and many, many opportunities for international students to enjoy and fully immerse themselves in a Waseda lifestyle. There are dorms especially for international students as well as a community center that holds over 300 events a year for both Japanese and foreign students.
2. International Christian University (Tokyo)
The entrance to International Christian University, or ICU, used to be an airport runway and is now lined with cherry blossom trees. The school is located in Mitaka, on the edge of Tokyo.
Though the name may suggest otherwise, International Christian University (ICU) is not a practicing Christian university and anyone of any denomination, or without, is able to apply. As of May 2013, 10% of the school’s population (undergraduate and graduate) is international, and many of the Japanese students have lived abroad for long periods of time. However, ICU only offers 25% of their classes in English and September-entry students are required to take courses in Japanese. Short-term exchange students might benefit best from ICU, especially those studying the Japanese language.
3. Doshisha University (Kyoto)
The motto of Doshisha University is “truth shall make you free.”
Compared to universities in Tokyo, Doshisha University’s international student population of 800 doesn’t seem like much, but its reputation as an outstanding private university in Japan as well as its location in the old capital make up for the number. Some classes are taught in English, though its most lucrative offering to foreign students is a decades-old 8 month-long study abroad program in conjunction with several American liberal arts universities.
4. Nanzan University (Nagoya)
The main campus of Nanzan University sits on a hill that, while climbable, will make you pretty tired by the time you reach class.
Nanzan University is a private, Catholic university, although like ICU it is not a practicing institution and you do not need to be religiously affiliated to apply. The school’s main offering for international students is the Center for Japanese Studies (CJS), which offers semester, year and summer-long programs for foreign Japanese language students. They also offer a spring semester program on the Western university timeline (January-May), which is different from most Japanese universities which hold their study abroad programs during the regular spring semester (April-August).
5. Keio University (Tokyo)
Keio University is regarded as the oldest institute of higher education in Japan.
Another of Japan’s top universities, Keio is located in the center of one of Tokyo’s busiest districts. The school has about 1,200 international students, with the highest number from Korea and China. Historically Keio has been sending and accepting international exchange students since the 1800s. Like the other schools on this list, Keio offers courses in either English or Japanese, though the English classes are limited. Keio’s English-language graduate schools are mostly limited to engineering and science studies.
6. Sophia University (Tokyo)
Sophia University is located within walking distance of the Imperial Palace, the Parliament and the National Diet Library, among others.
Sophia University, though its Japanese name is Jochi Daigaku, is seen as one of the most international campuses in Japan. The school was the first to introduce a program taught entirely in English and offers a wide range of English-language courses and programs today. Sophia prides itself on being an international university not just on campus, but also throughout the world, as they have alumni associations in several countries.
7. Nagoya University (Nagoya)
Nagoya University is located directly next to Nanzan University.
Nagoya University is one of Japan’s national universities and is recognized throughout the world for their achievements in science research. As of May 2013, there were about 1,600 international students enrolled in the university, and the school is hoping to increase that number every year. While Nagoya University’s international programs mainly cater to those studying science and engineering, they also have a cultural studies program and an undergraduate social sciences program.
8. Nagoya University of Foreign Studies (Nagoya)
The Nagoya University of Foreign Studies (NUFS) isn’t located in Nagoya proper, but an hour-long ride on the train will get you to the city.
The Nagoya University of Foreign Studies (NUFS) is located in Nisshin, a suburb of Nagoya in Aichi prefecture. It is about an hour away from the city center of Sakae, making it a smaller school, but it offers two substantial programs for international students as well as a large international dorm close to the school. Both programs are Japan-focused, with one centered on learning about Japan in the context of Asian Studies and the other on Japanese language studies.
9. Kansai Gaidai University (Osaka)
Kansai Gaidai’s full name, Gaikokugo Daigaku, means “foreign language university” and is the main focus of the school’s curriculum.
Kansai Gaidai University, or Kansai Gaikokugo Daigaku, is a private university in Osaka that focuses primarily on foreign languages. The international student population consists of over 600 students who come to the university for its Asian Studies program, which is completely in English. Japanese language courses are also offered through this program.
10. Ritsumeikan University (Kyoto)
Along with Doshisha University, Ritsumeikan is regarded as one of the Kansai region’s best private universities.
Located in Kyoto, Ritsumeikan University offers a variety of international exchange programs with schools throughout the world as well as a dual degree program with American University in Washington, D.C. and the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Ritsumeikan offers a 4-year Global Studies major for undergraduate students that is entirely in English.