Among all the places to explore in Japan, who would have thought that the academic sites are one of the best places to visit? One of many universities that offer beautiful buildings is the University of Tokyo’s Hongo Campus (東京大学本郷キャンパス). The grounds are a great place to walk around with the abundance of historical and academic buildings surrounding it. It has numerous top-class facilities such as museums, libraries and botanical gardens. Many of the campus buildings have been designed by Yoshikazu Uchida (内田祥三), a Japanese architect and structural engineer whose Gothic style can be seen in the designs of some of the faculties.
Anyone can freely enter the campus and look around as long as they do so in a respectable manner. So, let’s explore three of Tokyo University’s most popular sites:
Yasuda Auditorium is a popular symbol of the University of Tokyo. It was completed in 1925 thanks to generous donations from Zenjiro Yasuda (安田善次郎), a Japanese entrepreneur from Toyama (富山). His design for the auditorium takes inspiration from the gate tower of the University of Cambridge campus. It has a dynamic design which showcases a magnificent academic view. Elements of the building’s structure are considered a representation of the Taisho (大正) period when reddish brown-colored bricks were predominant. During autumn, the street outside of the auditorium is covered with the yellow leaves of gingko trees. These beautiful trees are known for their endurance and longevity which paved the way towards adopting the gingko tree as a symbol within the university’s school badge.
Aka-mon Gate or the Red Gate is the most distinctive of all gates to the University of Tokyo’s Hongo Campus. It was constructed in 1827 for the daughter of a Tokugawa shogun (徳川将軍) and is now seen as a popular landmark and relic of the era. The Aka-mon Gate is an Important Cultural Property (重要文化財) of Japan and has gained admiration from many people who visit the campus. In 1961, the gate was dismantled and repaired after general wear and tear. Today, it stands watching over the comings and goings of Hongo campus students.
Part of Tokyo University’s garden is formed by a pond called Sanshiro Pond. It was formerly known as Ikutokuen Shinji-ike (育徳園心字池). Its current name was adopted after the well-known Japanese author Soseki Natsume (夏目漱石) wrote about the pond in his novel, Sanshiro (三四郎). It appears in an impressive scene where the protagonist meets the woman he admires. If you’ve read the book or plan to read it, a trip to Sanshiro pond is sure to bring the novel to life for you.
Along with the gardens, Sanshiro Pond was constructed in 1638 and was known as the best garden created by feudal lords in Tokyo during the Edo (江戸) period. The pond’s quiet and relaxing atmosphere allows you to forget your troubles and gives you the feeling that you’re in the country as opposed to a busy capital city.
There are so many sightseeing spots around the campus which can be visited all throughout the year. Discovering these places on foot is an unmissable activity that’s enjoyable, informative and relaxing. You’ll also get an insight into the life of students at Tokyo University, giving you a taste of the intellectual atmosphere and the traditional surroundings of a prestigious educational institution.