Past History and Present

Distinguished Tradition and Excellence in Research

Located at Katahiracho, Sendai City, the Faculty of Arts and Letters, Tohoku University, was originally founded in 1922 as the Faculty of Law and Letters of Tohoku Imperial University. This was during the time of the "Taisho Democracy" (the time of the liberal movement after World War I, 1914-1918). Members of the faculty were leaders in the modernization of liberal arts education in Japan. They gave exciting lectures not only to students of liberal arts but also to those who were studying education, law, and economics. It was 15 years after the foundation of Tohoku Imperial University (1907) that the Faculty of Law and Letters was established. Ever since, it has provided an ideal environment for research. The University Library’s "Kano Collection" has some 108,000 books, mostly in the area of liberal arts. It was originally the private collection of Kano Kokichi, a prominent Meiji era philosopher and educator (1865-1942). Students have access to this collection of outstanding works.
The faculty went through challenging times during World War II when hopes for study and research were crushed. Even through times of such hardship, the first-rate environment for research and education was preserved, and even improved. The valuable "Soseki Collection" of 3,000 books, which had been part of a private collection of renowned novelist Natsume Soseki, was added to the Library. Tohoku Imperial University was renamed Tohoku University under the new educational system that was created in 1949 when the current Faculty of Arts and Letters was established. The campus was moved from Katahira to Kawauchi in 1973. The university was reorganized into a "national university corporation" in 2004. Although it has undergone numerous changes, the "Research-First Principle" of the university has been continuously upheld. It is a firm tradition that still lives on in the Faculty of Arts and Letters.

Facing the World with Prudence and Rationality - Exploring the Depth and Breadth of Knowledge

The Faculty of Arts and Letters currently has 25 majors. The large variety of majors in the humanities and social sciences is based on respect for diversity and individuality. The faculty believes in the importance of small classes and provides a place for education where students’ own interests and strengths are respected. Gaining a deep knowledge and thinking critically in their fields of specialty should not hinder students from acquiring a broad range of general knowledge and language skills. The real role of liberal arts and social sciences is to combine a broad range of general knowledge with specialized knowledge which are "practically-oriented" and address fundamental questions about human existence, culture, and society. The "Research-First" principle, which is a long-held tenet of Tohoku University, leads to another traditional idea, the "Open-Door" policy.
The more deeply one probes into academic studies, the greater the range of these studies becomes, and these newly explored areas will, in turn, further deepen the studies.
As a place of learning, the Faculty of Arts and Letters, Tohoku University, is deeply rooted in the local community, and at the same time, has opened wide its doors to the international community. The Tohoku Culture Research Room has continued to conduct a comprehensive investigation of the culture of the Tohoku region and students have reaped the benefits of this research in their classes. The faculty has five international members on the teaching staff and many international students from overseas. Tohoku University has academic exchange agreements with numerous overseas universities. Students have many opportunities for going abroad to study. The faculty often invites overseas scholars to give lectures at meetings and symposiums. Thus, the Faculty of Arts and Letters has a truly international environment.

  • Video Clip of Faculty of Arts and Letters (You Tube English, You Tube Japanese, Windows Media, QuickTime)

  • The Future - the Potential Power of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences

    The 21st century will continue to see giant leaps in science and technology in an increasingly information-centered and streamlined society. In such a world, "practically-oriented" liberal arts and social sciences that address fundamental questions about human existence, culture and society, will be increasingly important. The Faculty of Arts and Letters, Tohoku University, will continue to be a place of learning where students who study under the "practically-oriented" approach will go out into the world. Tradition can only be preserved by constantly being renewed and refreshed. The traditions of Tohoku University will be supported by such students who can bring a new and fresh perspective to learning.

    For the 25 majors of the faculty, please see the "Introduction to Laboratories." For the teachers profiles and areas of specialties, check out the website of the faculty: