Sophia University

For the Bulgarian university, see Sofia University.
Sophia University
Latin: Universitas Sedis Sapientiae
(University of the Seat of Wisdom)
Motto Lux Veritatis
Motto in English
Light of Truth
Type Catholic
Research University
Established 1913 (1913)
Affiliation Roman Catholic (Jesuit)
Chancellor Rev. Fr. Toshiaki Koso, SJ
President Prof. Takashi Hayashita
Academic staff
* 522 (Full-time)
* 749 (Part-time)
Administrative staff
Students 11,986
Undergraduates 10,528
Postgraduates 1,208
Other students
250 (Law)
Location Chiyoda, Tokyo,
Campus Urban:
-Yotsuya main campus
-Mejiro campus
-Ichigaya campus
-Shakujii campus
Alma Mater song Sophia
Colors Dark Red     
Sports 8 varsity teams
Mascot Eagle named
Affiliations IAU, IFCU
Sophia University main building

Sophia University (上智大学 Jōchi Daigaku) is a private Jesuit research university in Japan, with its main campus located near Yotsuya station, in an area of Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward. It is ranked as one of the top private universities in Japan. It takes its name from the Greek Sophia meaning "wisdom". The Japanese name, Jōchi Daigaku, literally means "University of Higher Wisdom".

It has an exchange program with many universities throughout the world, including Yale University, Sogang University and the University of Hong Kong. The university was a men’s university in the past, but at present admits women; the proportion of men to women is now more or less equal. Sophia’s alumni are referred to as "Sophians"; they include the 79th Japanese Prime Minister of Japan, Morihiro Hosokawa, a number of politicians represented in the National Diet of Japan, and professors at various institutions.


Sophia University was founded by Jesuits in 1913. It opened with departments of German Literature, Philosophy and Commerce, headed by its founder Hermann Hoffmann (1864–1937) as its first official president.[1]

In 1932, a small group of Sophia students refused to salute the war dead at Yasukuni Shrine in the presence of a Japanese military attache, saying it violated their religious beliefs. The military attache was withdrawn from Sophia as a result of this incident, damaging the university's reputation. The Archbishop of Tokyo intervened in the standoff by permitting Catholic students to salute the war dead, after which many Sophia students, as well as Hermann Hoffmann himself, participated in rites at Yasukuni. The Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples later issued the Pluries Instanterque in 1936, which encouraged Catholics to attend Shinto shrines as a patriotic gesture; the Vatican re-issued this document after the war in 1951.[2]

Sophia University continued to grow by increasing the numbers of departments, faculty members and students, in addition to advancing its international focus by establishing an exchange program. Many of its students studied at Georgetown University in the United States as early as 1935. Sophia's junior college was established in 1973, followed by the opening of Sophia Community College in 1976. With the founding of the Faculty of Liberal Arts in 2006, Sophia University presently holds 27 departments in its eight faculties. Its current president is Yoshiaki Ishizawa. Toshiaki Koso serves as head of its board of directors. Since 2008, the Global Leadership Program was started for students from four Jesuit universities in East Asia: Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines, Fu Jen Catholic University in Taiwan, Sogang University in South Korea, and Sophia University in Japan.[3]

Sophia's Research Institutes Division includes 11 research institutes with about 200 researchers.

  • Institute for Christian Culture
  • Institute of Global Concern (IGC)
  • Institute of Medieval Thought
  • Iberoamerican Institute
  • Linguistic Institute for International Communication
  • Institute of Comparative Culture
  • European Institute
  • Institute of Asian, African, and Middle Eastern Studies
  • Institute of American and Canadian Studies
  • Institute for Studies of the Global Environment
  • Institute of Media, Culture and Journalism[4]


Sophia's main campus, at Yotsuya, is urban, consisting of roughly 25 large, modern buildings in the center of Tokyo, the world's largest city. The majority of Sophia's 10,000 undergraduate students spend nearly all their time here. The faculties of Humanities, Law, Foreign Studies, Economics, Liberal Arts, and Science and Technology have their home here, as do the main library, cafeteria, gymnasium, chapel, bookstore, and offices. In April 2006, the Faculty of Comparative Culture (FCC), which had been located at the smaller Ichigaya campus, moved to the main Yotsuya campus and changed its name to the Faculty of Liberal Arts.[5] Nearly all of Sophia's foreign exchange students study at FLA.

The Tokyo office of the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE), the student exchange organization, which oversees roughly half of the international students, is also based on the main Yotsuya Campus. The Shakujii (Tokyo) campus houses the Faculty of Theology. The Hadano campus in Kanagawa Prefecture is home to the Sophia Junior College, as well as a number of seminar halls and athletics complexes. [6]

Sophia University, Yotsuya Campus, Tokyo, Japan
Sophia University

Popularity and selectivity

Sophia University is one of the most selective universities among 730 private universities in Japan.[7][8][9]

Notable faculty

Notable alumni

Government, politics, and society



Media & literature



  1. "Hoffman".
  2. Breen, John (1 March 2010). "Popes, Bishops and War Criminals: reflections on Catholics and Yasukuni in post-war Japan". The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus. Retrieved 15 January 2014.
  3. Profile,; accessed 22 September 2014.
  4. Institutes. Accessed 29 September 2016.
  5. "FLA". Retrieved October 13, 2015.
  6. "Hadano".
  7. National and Public universities apply different kind of exams. so it's only comparable between universities in a same category.
  8. E.g., Yoyogi seminar published Hensachi rankings (showing the entrance difficulties by prep schools)
  9. Japanese journalist Kiyoshi Shimano ranks its entrance difficulty as SA (most selective/out of 11 scales) in Japan.危ない大学・消える大学 2012年版 (in Japanese). YELL books. 2011.
  10. Lambert, Bruce (January 26, 1992). "Bettina L. Chow, Model and Designer, Dies at 41".

Coordinates: 35°41′03″N 139°43′55″E / 35.68417°N 139.73194°E / 35.68417; 139.73194

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