Top ten universities in the overall ranking are situated in nine different Japanese prefectures.

The World University Rankings is an annual publication by Times Higher Education (THE). The Japan-specific edition of the rankings was first released in March 2017, so this year marks its fifth iteration. In contrast to THE’s World University Rankings, which are largely focused on the research power of individual institutions of higher education, the Japan-specific rankings are more focused on the quality of education and growth potential for students–taking teaching practices and unique characteristics of each school into account as well.

Continuing from last year, the 2021 index ranks 278 Japanese universities based on a number of performance metrics grouped into four main pillars: Resources, Engagement, Outcomes, and Environment.

Let’s begin with the 2021 Overall Ranking. Numbers in parentheses denote each university’s ranking on the 2020 list.

Overall Ranking
10. Hiroshima University, Hiroshima Prefecture (12)
9. University of Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture (9)
8. Kyushu University, Fukuoka Prefecture (5)
7. Nagoya University, Aichi Prefecture (7)
6. Hokkaido University, Hokkaido Prefecture (6)
5. Osaka University, Osaka Prefecture (8)
4. Kyoto University, Kyoto Prefecture (2)
3. University of Tokyo, Tokyo (3–tie)
2. Tokyo Institute of Technology, Tokyo (3–tie)
1. Tohoku University, Miyagi Prefecture (1)

▼ Tohoku University consists of four main campuses spread around Sendai–the political, economic, and cultural heart of northeastern Japan.

Welcome to #spring!
Welcome to a new academic year at Tohoku University!

— Tohoku University (@TohokuUniPR) April 1, 2021

Next, let’s take a look at the top three universities according to each of the four pillars.


“Does the university have the capacity to deliver teaching effectively? The resources area represents 34 percent of the overall rankings.”

3. Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine, Kyoto Prefecture
2. Hyogo College of Medicine, Hyogo Prefecture
1. Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Tokyo

▼ TMDU is located in the heart of Tokyo …continue reading