Department Overview

* Please see 
Contact Us for the Department Office mailing address and contact information.
* For information on the research of graduate students in the Department, see the Graduate Student Site.


The Department of Anthropology at the University of Tokyo at Komaba was founded in September of 1954 as the Cultural Anthropology and Human Geography Department.  Since sending off its first graduating class of 5 students in March 1957, through March of 2011, the department has graduated 339 undergraduate majors.  The Department has played a very important role as an early pioneer of anthropological education in Japan.

Cultural Anthropology... What is it exactly?

Cultural anthropology is a field of study centered around research based on participant observation and other methods that are carried out during careful fieldwork in order to explore the daily cultural practices of various societies across the world. The discipline, beginning with subjects of "traditional" or tribal societies, has expanded to make crucial contributions to many of the problems of modern society.  Not limited to research conducted in foreign cultures, our own Japanese culture has been an important subject of research.  A cultural anthropologist's work is done with an approach toward varied human activity that stresses observational skills that take under consideration details of people's actions, the social skills to create relationships with collaborators and the tenacious and dynamic thought that can tease out the special characteristics of human society and culture.

Major Areas of Research

Currently, research areas being undertaken by faculty of the Cultural Anthropology Department can be divided into 3 major axes.

  • The first major axis is that of "singular cultural studies" in which one distinct culture of the many across the world (and including Japan) is elucidated.  This type of research is characterized by specialized research interest in one or more regions and is centered around their social specificity and traditions including forms of government, religion, language, folk customs, historicity. 
  • The second major axis is "applied culture" research, in which global social shifts (such as immigration or tourism) are studies for their overall shape, extending beyond any specific local culture. 
  • Last, the third axis is "cutting-edge culture" research. It is typified by a radical re-questioning of culture and society through recently developed scientific technologies and cutting-edge technologies of the internet and Western medicine.

This is not all our faculty does.  For more information on the interest of each, see the Faculty page.

Undergraduate Education

The curriculum of the undergraduate program in cultural anthropology is focused on encouraging a student's systematic acquisition of the methodology of fieldwork and data analysis, as well as developing the ability to analyze many cultural and social phenomena.  Overall, the department offers classes in: various aspects of culture including economics and religion, various dimensions of society from the family to government. We hope to encourage a sense of balance that allows the freedom of dynamic thought between micro and macro, or between theory and reality. Post-graduation, students from this department go on to careers in researcher, international cooperation organizations, government and municipalities, think tanks, journalism, media and many other private corporate jobs.

Graduate Education

At the graduate level, the goal of education is to develop experts in the field of cultural anthropology.  This expertise is centered on qualitative research in the three main research areas detailed above, while also including an understanding of quantitative research methods to enable students to master the levels of thinking that multidimensionally grasp complex variables. As such, students graduating from this program go on to career paths in research and teaching in anthropology and regional studies, fusion and frontier area research, international cooperative and other public organizations and research organizations.