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Top 5 Foreigner-Friendly Japanese Universities

Maintaining an increase in the number of international students has always been a priority for Japan. And the nation is unsurprisingly closing in on its target of 300,000 for their foreign student population by 2020.

By May 2019, approximately 298,980 students from across the world were already enrolled all over the various schools of the country, so it’s safe to say that the government is ahead of its scheduled goal by next year.

One of the reasons why their campaign is successful is how highly their educational institutions rank globally. Not only are these institutions lauded for their excellent programs, but they are also known because of their learning environments suited for foreign learners.

For this article, we’ll present the universities best suited for international students in the Land of the Rising Sun—counting down the top five.

5. Sophia University

Sophia University, Yotsuya Campus, Tokyo, Japan. Photo by John Paul Antes via Wikimedia Commons.

Photo by John Paul Antes via Wikimedia Commons.

Placing at #17 in the 2019 Times Higher Education Japan University Rankings is one of the superb schools in Tokyo—Sophia University. It is based near Yotsuya station in Chiyoda, Tokyo.

This institution focuses on bringing students to global society, as it has ties to over 300 universities in 70 countries all over the world. Sophia University is committed to its goal as it has various social clubs, and the school also hosts regular gatherings with appearances from United Nations officials and other prominent international figures.

Aside from promoting global awareness, academics are also a priority for Sophia University. They have faculties and course offerings for liberal arts, science & technology, and engineering.

4. International Christian University

International Christian University, Mitaka, Tokyo, Japan. Photo by John Paul Antes via Wikimedia Commons.

Photo by John Paul Antes via Wikimedia Commons.

Founded in 1949, International Christian University (ICU) has always been renowned for being innovative in ways of connecting their students to the international community, as the university aims “to be a bridge both to and from Japan.” The liberal arts college is among the top schools in the country and it sits at #11 in the Japanese university rankings.

A lot consider ICU to be the right choice for foreigners since it offers 30% of its courses in English. Aside from this, it also has a bilingual education system (Japanese and English) and sponsors exchange programs. The International Christian University campus is in Mitaka, Tokyo.

Another reason for international students to choose ICU is that the school has a similar program to US colleges. The influence may come from its various partnerships with globally-known schools like Duke University, the University of Pennsylvania, and the 10 schools under the University of California system. Although it emulates a western approach, it is still a popular choice for locals.

3. Akita International University

Akita International University. Photo by Kikucha via Wikimedia Commons.

Photo by Kikucha via Wikimedia Commons.

The Times Higher Education Japan University Rankings has Akita International University (AIU) as the 10th best university in the nation, but places them at #1 when it comes to categories like “engagement” and “environment.” Daigaku Tsushin, a media outlet, also rates AIU as the best small university in the country and the best global university.

Accolades aside, Akita International University’s student population is composed of a majority of exchange students from different countries. AIU also grants pupils to study overseas, engage in English classes, and take up a third language.

AIU encourages its students to embrace internationalism, as it offers Global Business and Global Studies degrees and master’s degrees in English Language Teaching and Global Communication Practices.

Its location is in the capital of Akita prefecture, Akita City. Many sceneries like ski areas, mountains, and coastlines are surrounding the campus.

2. The University of Tokyo

The University of Tokyo, Japan. Photo from Adobe Stock.
Ranking at #23, not just in Japan, but throughout the whole world, is perhaps the best university in Japan – the University of Tokyo (UTokyo).

For over 132 years, the University of Tokyo or “Todai” has consistently been one of the top schools in Japan. They always rank within the top 10 for fields like mechanical and chemical engineering, modern languages, chemistry, physics, and astronomy.

Thousands of foreigners enroll yearly at this prestigious institution. The University of Tokyo also has international exchange agreements with 450 universities from all over the world, so the foreign student population will always certainly increase.

Fun fact: UTokyo has had 15 of Japan’s 62 prime ministers go through their historical halls and call their classrooms a second home. They also have 8 Nobel Prize winners and 5 astronauts as part of their alumni.

1. Kyoto University

Kyoto University, Japan. Photo from Adobe Stock.
Kyoto University is considered by The Times Higher Education Japan University Rankings as the #1 school in the country for 2019 and #65 in the world rankings. It constantly appears in the world’s list of universities with the best science, engineering, and language programs.

The institution’s academic reputation and world-renowned international research institutes are just two of the various reasons why they are considered to be the best. They also offer several options for international students like Civil Engineering and English degree programs such as Economics, Sciences, Agriculture, Medicine, Informatics, Management, and Bio studies, among others.

International student groups and affiliations are a dime a dozen inside the campus so foreign students likely won’t take time in meeting new acquaintances and settling down comfortably.


There are countless great schools for foreigners all over Japan. Most of the top schools provide tremendous academic and social benefits. At the end of the day, it all depends on which university students prefer.

If the listings we’ve given you here aren’t an ideal fit, or you just want to get more of a perspective, check out the Top Global University Japan website to discover more foreigner-friendly institutions in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Now that you know the best foreigner-friendly universities in Japan, it’s time to decide on which school you want to enroll in and figure out the next steps to achieving your dream of studying in the country.

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