Are Tokyo University students cleverer than other people?

TOKYO —

Are Tokyo University (Todai) students cleverer than other people? They ought to be – it is Asia’s top-ranking university – and yet criticism abounds. It churns out good rote learners who do well on tests, detractors say, but poorly in real-life situations demanding unfettered thinking. Is that true? Friday (April 26) doesn’t think so.

There’s brain power to burn, the magazine finds – some of it flowing into some pretty unconventional channels. Would you believe – a circus juggler? A world champion poker player?

There’s something about the atmosphere of a big-league university. One male undergraduate recalls noticing two girls at orientation. The girls were giggling, and he presumed they were talking about – what else? – boys. Not so. Edging closer, he caught references to Nietzsche and Schopenhauer. What could he do but shake his head and brace himself for the heady intellectual challenges that lay ahead!

Among the professoriate, Yuji Ikegaya, assistant professor of pharmacology, stands out. At 42, he’s famous enough from numerous publications to attract considerable research funding. In that he’s not alone. For science students, Friday says, Todai is ideal for just that reason – its professors are name people whose labs are well endowed financially, by government and the private sector.

Of the 25.66 billion yen the government awarded universities nationwide, 2.27 billion went to Todai alone. “The research environment here is unrivalled,” says Ikegaya. As for him, “Except when I’m asleep, I’m researching. Every morning I go through 100 research papers. I carry 20 in my brief case, so when I’m stopped at a red light I can read.”

One of Ikegaya’s former students is Takayuki Yamazaki, 29. As a high school student he discovered juggling. It was his first love. “Go to college,” his parents urged him. “Qualify for something. Then, if juggling is still what you want to do…” He saw the sense in this, and – not one to do things by halves – chose Todai, which in turn chose him. He graduated, found his love for juggling undimmed, and joined Canada’s celebrated Cirque du Soleil – where you’ll find him to this day.

Naoya Kihara, 31, was a math whiz as a kid. Growing up in Asahikawa, Hokkaido, he dreamed of someday winning a Nobel Prize. He entered Todai and studied astrophysics. He was going places – he hardly knew where. A member of the university shogi club, he was introduced by another member to backgammon. From backgammon it was a short leap to poker. Tuition was expensive. Earnings as a part-time juku teacher didn’t cover it. Poker winnings did, and then some.

“Todai students are really good at processing information,” he says. “Passing or failing depends on being able to write logically and fast.” That’s not unrelated to successful poker-playing. His math brain and Todai skills stood him in good stead. In 2011 he turned pro; in 2012 he became the first Japanese to win a world championship poker tournament, worth 40 million yen in prize money.

What about astrophysics? one wonders. Presumably, it can wait.

  • 7

    sakurala

    Juggling and poker playing; oh the places you can go these days with a university degree!! How clever these students must be...

  • 2

    sillygirl

    Just look at the grads running the country....into the ground. Maybe cleverer at lining their pockets plus the pockets of their cronies.

  • 1

    kimuzukashiiiii

    Did you know that, statistically, a huge percentage of people who end up going to Todai are born in either April or May?

  • 11

    Frungy

    kimuzukashiiiiiApr. 23, 2013 - 08:05AM JST Did you know that, statistically, a huge percentage of people who end up going to Todai are born in either April or May?

    For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Japanese schooling system what kimuzukashiiii is pointing out is that students who are slightly older when they finish school have a better chance of getting into Todai. The reason for this is that the school year starts in April, thus a child who is born on, for example the 20th of April, will be almost a full year older than the classmates they're competing against.

    This is a reasonably well-known phenomenon, and has various causes, ranging from the fact that being the oldest/biggest/more mature/etc. student in your class for your JHS and SHS years tends to instill a sense of confidence, plus of course the advantages of being older and therefore trusted more by teachers, etc.

    There's no mystery here.

  • 8

    BertieWooster

    Getting into Todai is a filter system.

    It selects those students who can absorb vast quantities of useless and disrelated information and regurgitate it verbatim on the exam paper.

    It rejects those students who can't.

    The majority of students who get into Todai haven't an ounce of original thought in their heads. Most of them are yes-men, pure and simple. This makes them ideal for government or big business positions where obstinacy and refusal to toe the line would be an obstacle. They also know how to sound intelligent and this helps to give credibility.

    Todai itself doesn't DO anything.

    It filters.

    No more and no less.

  • -15

    gaijinfo

    The "cleverest" students in any country, during any time, are the ones who end up making the most money NOT CONNECTED IN ANY WAY to the government.

    Musicians, authors, entrepreneurs, programmers, whatever.

    Now, before you jump on me as a selfish, short sighted, greedy capitalist pig, those who make the most coin are the ones who are producing what is most demanded in a free market society.

    In that respect, the cleverest are always paid well on the free market.

    They don't become circus jugglers.

  • 25

    lucabrasi

    @gaijininfo

    It doesn't occur to you that the "cleverest" folk might have worked out that there's more to life than raking in cash?

    Are you seriously suggesting that a porn website entrepreneur is "cleverer" than a physician in a government hospital?

  • 0

    Moonraker

    Not exactly a stellar roll call of alumni then.

  • -1

    oikawa

    I carry 20 in my brief case, so when I’m stopped at a red light I can read.

    Lol! Indicative of the common sense level of Todai?

  • 0

    cracaphat

    Book smart? And cramming in textbook rote messages ? Absolutely.

  • -20

    gaijinfo

    Are you seriously suggesting that a porn website entrepreneur is "cleverer" than a physician in a government hospital?

    Yes, if he's making more money. People tend to immediately lose their objectivity when they hear the term "money" as if it's something evil, and it's only necessary "sometimes"

    A physician working in a government hospital is getting paid a government salary. The government salary comes from taxes. Nobody pays taxes voluntarily. They only pay them because they will be punished if they don't. You can claim it's "for the greater good" until you are blue in the face, but if taxes suddenly became voluntary, people would stop paying that that wonderful government hospital would quickly dry up.

    So, do you really think it's "clever" to take money from people via force, (taxes) and pay them to some doctor who couldn't get a job in the private sector?

    BTW, just because you used another hypnotically vague word (hospital) that doesn't take away from the simple fact that the free market is ALWAYS better at providing goods to people, whether they be porn or open heart surgery, than the government.

  • 6

    gogogo

    No

  • 3

    rickyvee

    if by "clever" you mean "has a high test score" than it's simple: yes. unlike some elite colleges in america that takes into consideration status (harvard), extracarricular activities (stanford), etc, todai students are the most clever in japan.

  • 6

    Scrote

    Tokyo university's reputation is due to its faculty, not its students. When you receive the lion's share of research funding it is easy to churn out journal papers and attract the best staff. Of course, this also means they will get some very good students too.

    However, many bureaucrats and politicians are graduates of Tokyo university. You only have to look at the corruption and inertia in the government of this country to realise that these people are not "clever" at all, but a bunch of self-serving scoundrels. They are "clever" only in the sense that they realise where the power is and have worked to capture it for themselves.

  • 5

    Yubaru

    The majority of students who get into Todai haven't an ounce of original thought in their heads. Most of them are yes-men, pure and simple. This makes them ideal for government or big business positions where obstinacy and refusal to toe the line would be an obstacle. They also know how to sound intelligent and this helps to give credibility. Todai itself doesn't DO anything.It filters.No more and no less.

    Once again just goes to show that folks like to regurgitate things that other people have told them about university students in Japan without doing any research on their own.

    While the image of University students in Japan is much like what is written here Todai is the exception to the rule and by far as well.

    Todai is (arguably) ranked anywhere between 3rd (and generally accepted to be) ranked somewhere between 20th and 25th in the world and as the article states number one in Asia.

    You don't get Nobel laureates from people " haven't an ounce of original thought in their heads" And they are not the exception either.

    Once again Bertie, live and learn, live and learn.....

    Todai is usually considered as the top research institution in Japan. In fact, the largest amount of investment has been spent for Todai in Grants in Aid for Scientific Research, which is the national grands for research institutions. Todai receives 40% more than the University with 2nd largest grants and 90% more than the University with 3rd largest grants.[32] This massive financial supports from the Japanese government directly affects Todai's research outcomes. According to Thomson Reuters, Todai is the best research university in Japan.[3] Its research excellence is especially distinctive in Physics(1st in Japan, 2nd in the world), Biology & Biochemistry (1st in Japan, 3rd in the world), Pharmacology & Toxicology (1st in Japan, 5th in the world), Materials Science (3rd in Japan, 19th in the world), Chemistry (2nd in Japan, 5th in the world), and Immunology (2nd in Japan, 20th in the world).[33] In another ranking, Nikkei Shimbun on 2004/2/16 surveyed about the research standards in Engineering studies based on Thomson Reuters, Grants in Aid for Scientific Research and questionnaires to heads of 93 leading Japanese Research Centers, and Todai was placed 4th (research planning ability 3rd/informative ability of research outcome 10th/ability of business-academia collaboration 3rd) in this ranking.[34] Weekly Diamond also reported that Todai has the 3rd highest research standard in Japan in terms of research fundings per researchers in COE Program.[35] In the same article, it's also ranked 21st in terms of the quality of education by GP funds per student. Todai also has an outstanding research standard in Social Science & Humanities. Repec in Jan 2011 ranked Todai's Economic department as Japan's best economic research university.[36] And it is the only Japanese university within world top 100.[18] Todai has provided 9 presidents of Japanese Economic Association in its 42 year history, and it is the largest number.[37]

    <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RankingsofUniversityofTokyo >

  • 17

    lucabrasi

    Are you seriously suggesting that a porn website entrepreneur is "cleverer" than a physician in a government hospital?

    Yes, if he's making more money.

    Well, all you've done is redefine the meaning of the word "clever" to mean "wealthy".

    It's like saying "People who rake in the most cash are the best-looking, because I choose to define "beautiful" as earning tons of money.

    A lot of us still don't fall for the free-market, greed is good propaganda. And a lot of us are all the happier for it.

  • 0

    sakurala

    Yubaru: thank you for the info! I wish this fluff piece would have shown how these clever students are putting their degrees to use in innovative ways. I am much more interested in seeing how young minds come about great ideas rather than how they do something completely unrelated but are considered great because they went to a name brand university.

  • 0

    kimuzukashiiiii

    For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Japanese schooling system what kimuzukashiiii is pointing out is that students who are slightly older when they finish school have a better chance of getting into Todai. The reason for this is that the school year starts in April, thus a child who is born on, for example the 20th of April, will be almost a full year older than the classmates they're competing against. This is a reasonably well-known phenomenon, and has various causes, ranging from the fact that being the oldest/biggest/more mature/etc. student in your class for your JHS and SHS years tends to instill a sense of confidence, plus of course the advantages of being older and therefore trusted more by teachers, etc. There's no mystery here."

    Frungy indeed no mystery! Its just interesting to me.

    In my native country (UK) I was the very youngest in my class, throughout primary, and secondary school, but I ended up going to one of the top 3 universities regardless.

    I know that I was not the exception to the rule in this aspect, and while it is perhaps a common phenomenon in Japan, I wonder about elsewhere in the world? I doubt that, if you look at Harvard, the percentage of students born at the start of the academic year would be quite so high? Perhaps with the lack of critical thinking at Todai, and the sole focus of memorizing facts and churning them out like robots, those born earlier in the year have a clear advantage, which is very sad indeed.

  • 0

    sangetsu03

    Ah, Todai, the greatest university in Asia, but still not among the world's top-20.

    A university is rated by many standards, but the greatest measure is employability upon graduation. Todai graduates have little trouble finding decent work after graduation (at least if they are men), but, compared to the top western universities, their opportunities are more limited. Like all other Japanese universities, the course work at Todai is about as challenging as flying a kite, and, like at other Japanese universities, Todai students spend much of their time traveling or participating in their social circle events. Todai is just the last part of the salaryman grooming system, much like any other Japanese univesity, but Todai students at least get the attention of larger companies.

    The ulitimste measure of success is income. Income comes through hard work and innovation, neither of which are common in Japanese universities. The socialists will of course claim that this is nonsense, which further proves their ignorance. The quality of life most people enjoy is only partially of their own making, most owe their livelyhoods to those who have studied hard, worked hard, and taken personal risks to become successful, to those who have created the companies at which most people work. Unfortunately, most Japanese university students do not work or study hard, and few nationalitiea are more risk-averse than the Japanese, hence the the continuing decline of Japan.

  • 5

    kibousha

    Cleverer, in what context ?

    You can so "No" all you like but the fact that it ranks 9th in Natural Sciences and Mathematics in the world, and the number of Nobel laureates it produces is not debatable.

    http://www.shanghairanking.com/FieldSCI2012.html

    and here's how they ranked universities

    http://www.shanghairanking.com/ARWU-FIELD-Methodology-2012.html

  • 6

    borscht

    Yubaru -

    You don't get Nobel laureates from people "haven't an ounce of original thought in their heads" And they are not the exception either.

    Of the 19 Nobel prizes awarded to Japanese citizens, four laureates graduated from Kyoto University (in science-related fields) and six graduated from Tokyo University (four in science, two in literature, one for peace).

    As far as I could find out, the literature (Kawabata & Oe) and peace (Sato) did not teach at Todai. Of the science-related laureates, Negishi spent most of his research/teaching at Purdue; Nambu teaches at the University of Chicago and is an American citizen; Koshiba also taught at the the University of Chicago & Todai; Esaki did his research at Sony in Japan and IBM in the US.

    While they graduated from Todai, their research for which they got the Nobel was done overseas. These four Todai graduates must have had more than an ounce of original thought but, unfortunately for Japan, it was allowed to bloom somewhere else.

  • 1

    fds

    there are various kinds of smart and i'm sure there are some todai students who are brilliant at everything and some that are only book smart and only got in cause they passed the testing criteria.

  • 3

    LiveInTokyo

    I found the article a bit confusing. Really, it only used a couple of examples. In the end did the article really prove anything?

  • 1

    In_japan

    NO, (trust me) but they have the best facility, instruments and most important funding. It makes hell difference.

  • -9

    Droll Quarry

    Kinda like an American U, where the student sits in class and listens to tunes on his/her Iphone for four years and then sues the U in court for a degree claiming he/she was discriminated against because the Prof did not talk loud enough.

  • -1

    jumpultimatestars

    "It selects those students who can absorb vast quantities of useless and disrelated information and regurgitate it verbatim on the exam paper." ^ The typical response from someone whose been chewed up, spit out and butt-hurt by higher education.

  • 0

    cleo

    most important funding. It makes hell difference

    This definitely. During his two years as a post-grad at Todai, my son was amazed at how many public and private-sector institutions/groups/foundations were almost desperate to throw money at him and his colleagues to carry out research, attend overseas conferences, etc.

    In my native country (UK) I was the very youngest in my class, throughout primary, and secondary school, but I ended up going to one of the top 3 universities regardless.

    Hey, I could have written that! :-)

  • 1

    Xeno23

    Let's consider the word "clever": typically dictionaries define it with other words like: adroit, skillful, mentally quick or nimble, resourceful, exhibiting ingenuity and inventiveness. Is this what we're talking about? Because none of that requires University education. Discussing Nietzsche or Schopenhauer isn't clever, in and of itself, and when was the last time you heard someone describe a Nobel laureate as clever?

    Good poker players, that's cleverness; wringing cash out of internet rubes - yeah, that's pretty clever. But do you equate cleverness with what a respected physician, scientist, or top legal mind does? Not so much, because what they do is far more profound. A dog balancing a crisp on its nose; that's clever.

    One would hope that in the course of earning a University degree, one also hones and harnesses innate or acquired cleverness in balance with knowledge and expertise to result in intelligence, but it don't always work out that way.

  • 6

    letsberealistic

    I teach Todai students and would say they are generally very confident and not afraid to challenge the teacher.

    I would say they are of similar intelligence to the average UK/US university student but perhaps a little less 'worldly' and open-minded. They are also prone to be very assumptive in their opinions and lack the ability to think critically or assess a subject/question from different angles/perspectives. There are always exceptions though of course.

  • 2

    Wakarimasen

    They have great networks and are looked up to by many other Japanese people, that helps them get ahead.

  • 0

    ka_chan

    I always thought clever was not necessarily a good thing to be called. "good at achieving what you want, especially by using unusual or slightly dishonest methods" by Macmillan.

  • 1

    blendover

    For the most part, Tokyo university selects students who are better than anyone else at playing the testing game that so many of Japan's youth.have to play. From amongst those, there are some exceptions to this group of exceptional people, because in addition to being test aces they are also good at other things as well. Exceptions are great, but far more important is the average mentality and ability set not only of those who made it into Tokyo, but of all those others who played the same game and didn't get into Tokyo.

    Far too many of these people are at a loss when everything isn't handed to them on a plate for them to work on with a set answer already there that they are supposed to know or calculate and be graded correct for. They are not all like that by any means but iit is a serious problem for a nation that is in need of innovation - a problem that exists in Tokyo university just as it does elsewhere.

    I think that one of the reasons for this problem is the idea that tests should be completely objective in order to be fair. Therefore there is avoidance of testing anything that can only be rated sujectively. Then many people who know that their future depends on their performance on these kinds of tests underrate and underdevelop skills and abilities of a kind that are not tested and come out with an unbalanced skill set.

  • 4

    Yubaru

    While they graduated from Todai, their research for which they got the Nobel was done overseas.

    Thank you for making my point. My comment was in reply to another posters insinuation that Todai students/graduates have no ability to think without being led around by their nose.

    That is blatantly false.

  • 4

    SamuraiBlue

    Unfortunately Kokuritu Tokyo Daigaku had become the template of university here in Japan. They are good in memorizing and to derive an answer by applying information that had been previously learned. In a sense they are test smart.

    The problem with Japanese education system is that it does not place emphasis on developing a logical thought pattern so they can envision a solution to a problem beyond an answer to a question. This is the challenge for Japan in a position where we are required to create something new and not merely replicate something that had been made already.

  • -1

    Droll Quarry

    create something new and not merely replicate something that had been made already.

    It goes to all levels.... like trying to convince a construction company to replace your concrete driveway with asphalt.

  • 1

    Tamarama

    Yes, they are.

  • 1

    papasmurfinjapan

    letsberealistic sums up my experience with my students/friends/acquaintances who have gone to Kyoto University (sorry, I don't know that many who have been to Todai). They are no dummies, but what really separates the people I know is not so much their intelligence, but their attitude. They are, for the most part, supremely confident in their abilities, to the point of being conceited. However it is this confidence in themselves that gives them the drive to succeed at what they do.

  • 3

    papasmurfinjapan

    sangetsu03

    the course work at Todai is about as challenging as flying a kite, and, like at other Japanese universities, Todai students spend much of their time traveling or participating in their social circle events.

    So you studied there, did you? It's a shame if that's all you got out of university life.

  • 1

    Magnet

    SImple answer to the headline: No. They just work harder to get into university. But once they're in....

  • 1

    wtfjapan

    being of high intellegence will not guarantee wealth, some of the richest people in the world are far from being the smartest, good business sense and a good understanding of risk taking are far more important. or you can inherit wealth, richest woman in the world is Gina Rinehart 18.6billion while she has a good business mind she is far from super smart.

  • 3

    wtfjapan

    @papasmurf all the confindence in the world will not help you if you dont have good common sense and creative thinking skills, 20th century was built by the minds of creative thinkers which is why many nobel prices have been awarded to these people. why is it that Japan has won so few compared to its large population only 20!? Canda 20, Italy 20, Australia 13, Denmark 14 all have won nearly as many with much smaller populations.
    USA 338, UK 119, Germany 101 are the largest winners

  • 1

    wtfjapan

    which is why the saying goes about Japanese students, "taught to memorise not analyse"

  • 1

    Yubaru

    Unfortunately Kokuritu Tokyo Daigaku had become the template of university here in Japan.

    FYI in reality there are no longer any "kokuritsu" or national universities in Japan, it's a common misconception among many people. All the former national universities changed to "daigaki houjin" and all national universitieschanged to or were transformed into national university corporations.

    It's been that way since around 2003 or 2004 I do believe. While the university still gets a huge portion of it's funding from the national government it is no longer a government university.

  • 4

    Ah_so

    The majority of students who get into Todai haven't an ounce of original thought in their heads. Most of them are yes-men, pure and simple. This makes them ideal for government or big business positions where obstinacy and refusal to toe the line would be an obstacle. They also know how to sound intelligent and this helps to give credibility.

    Bertiewooster: You may have a lot of evidence for this, but to me it sounds like off-the-shelf gaijin dogma. How many Todai graduates to you know?

  • -1

    bruinfan

    Many of them, yes. But a good number are very good at memorizing information, but weaker in other aspects of 'intelligence'.

  • 1

    Ah_so

    In my native country (UK) I was the very youngest in my class, throughout primary, and secondary school, but I ended up going to one of the top 3 universities regardless. I know that I was not the exception to the rule in this aspect, and while it is perhaps a common phenomenon in Japan, I wonder about elsewhere in the world? I doubt that, if you look at Harvard, the percentage of students born at the start of the academic year would be quite so high? Perhaps with the lack of critical thinking at Todai, and the sole focus of memorizing facts and churning them out like robots, those born earlier in the year have a clear advantage, which is very sad indeed.

    • I do like you little boast there, irrelevant to the topic - anyone of your intelligence would recognise this that of course young people can go to good universities. I also like your mention of "top 3". Had you been to Oxford or Cambridge you would have stated "Top 2" universities, of course.

    But actually, the age thing is a phenomenum nearly everywehre, including the UK. The Institute for Fiscal Studies found that "children born in August were 20% less likely than their classmates born 11 months earlier. in September, to go to Russell Group universities – the top flight that includes Oxford and Cambridge. They were more likely to study vocational courses instead.". http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2011/nov/01/birth-month-affects-results-well-being

    This even affects sportsmen - professional footballers are more likely to be born in the autumn term. Very counter-intuitive, but it seems likely that the older promising sportsmen are more likely to be picked for the school team earlier and get noticed at a regional level and receive extra coaching than their less well developed peers.

    This age bias will affect the Japanese educational system as much as anywhere else, so the cleverest children will not always get into the best universities on account of being younger when they sit key exams. Tokyo university students are still more likely to be cleverer than those at lesser universities.

  • 1

    wipeout

    Had you been to Oxford or Cambridge you would have stated "Top 2" universities, of course.

    Yes, that one jumps out of the screen. It's a bit sad that anyone feels the need to say they went to a top university - even if they're telling the truth.

    As it is, the third university in the "top 3" in the UK would be a bit of a mystery to most of us. There's no single ranking system.

    Of course, I would say that as I went to an obscure comprehensive. Probably one of the top three in my hometown though.

  • 3

    irishosaru

    I went to the 29th best university in Ireland.

  • -1

    BertieWooster

    wipeout,

    As it is, the third university in the "top 3" in the UK would be a bit of a mystery to most of us. There's no single ranking system.

    Thank you for the voice of sanity.

    How on Earth can anyone rank universities?

    Is there a "Top of the Pops" of institutes of higher learning?

  • 1

    wipeout

    why is it that Japan has won so few compared to its large population only 20!? Canda 20, Italy 20, Australia 13, Denmark 14 all have won nearly as many with much smaller populations. USA 338, UK 119, Germany 101 are the largest winners

    The UK has won 16 since 2000 and Japan has won 11. Although Japan has double the population, that isn't a huge mismatch, considering that five of the British winners were born outside the UK, and three of the winners received the Nobel Prize for Literature, a which is certainly a great honour but rather a hard thing to measure. Another received the Peace Prize (David Trimble - who led an Orange Order march through Catholic residential areas in 1995, which is a show of hostility, not an act of peace.)

    All but one of the Japan winners since 2000 were in the field of Physics or Chemistry, the other was in Physiology/Medicine.

  • 0

    cleo

    >the third university in the "top 3" in the UK would be a bit of a mystery to most of us.

    The top three universities in most other countries would be a bit of a mystery to me, but I know what the top three in the UK are.

  • 2

    yyj72

    When I taught at a university entrance prep juku, what struck me about Todai's entrance exams was how straightforward, logical and strikingly similar they were to Western university entrance tests like the GRE or GMAT. Virtually all of the other schools' exams were logically incoherent and mainly asked students to regurgitate jumbled masses of useless and often unrelated information. The students who got into Todai (and Kyodai) were often the most creative, articulate and intelligent kids in class, real standouts who could take a step back from a problem and think it through for themselves... which unfortunately meant they were often considered socially awkward in the Japanese context. Sadly, their classmates who couldn't get into Todai were incapable of passing these exams, in some cases despite their obvious intelligence, because by the time they were 17 they were already better at the rote learning style. Ironic, eh?

  • -1

    wipeout

    The top three universities in most other countries would be a bit of a mystery to me, but I know what the top three in the UK are.

    I'm buggered if I do.

    Oxford Cambridge St Andrews?

  • -1

    wipeout

    Another received the Peace Prize (David Trimble - who led an Orange Order march through Catholic residential areas in 1995, which is a show of hostility, not an act of peace.)

    Actually, Trimble won in 1998, so I withdraw that.

  • -2

    SamuraiBlue

    wipeout

    Utilizing the Nobel prize any kind of measurement for intelligence is completely meaningless since natural science had been ever more splinted into tinier compartments of expertise.

    The science I studied(Physics) has no mutated considerably with larger and grander equipment that I only dreamed of only 25 years ago.

  • -4

    gaijinfo

    A lot of us still don't fall for the free-market, greed is good propaganda. And a lot of us are all the happier for it.

    And society is worse off because of it. That's what anti-free market people fail to see. The ONLY way to get "rich" is by providing things that people want.

    If you give up making money because you are "above it" then you're basically giving up trying to provide things that people want, and focusing on your own happiness.

    That's pretty selfish.

  • 1

    hatsoff

    “Todai students are really good at processing information,”

    This, in the penultimate paragraph, sums up a lot of the students, I would bet. I like the sound of the juggler. He can think for himself, and was doing so since he was a kid.

    Here's the difference between Japan's leading university and, say, Oxford or Cambridge: Ask a student "Why cars?" and see what kind of answer you get.

  • 2

    hatsoff

    So, do you really think it's "clever" to take money from people via force, (taxes) and pay them to some doctor who couldn't get a job in the private sector?

    (sigh) Free-market ideology strikes again, with the concomitant opinion that anyone who disagrees is a socialist, no doubt. Actually, I'm quite happy to pay tax to prevent the elderly and sick dying on the streets, and I'm quite happy to pay my taxes so that doctors can treat patients in a public hospital.

    What a sick ideology it is that resents society so much.

  • 0

    JaneM

    The top three universities in most other countries would be a bit of a mystery to me, but I know what the top three in the UK are.

    Please do not take it in the wrong way but I hope that the 3rd best university in the UK is the same for both you and kimuzukasiii ;-)

  • -1

    wipeout

    Utilizing the Nobel prize any kind of measurement for intelligence is completely meaningless since natural science had been ever more splinted into tinier compartments of expertise.

    Um, I agree. It was another commenter who brought up the Nobel Prize as a way to show that Japan is lagging. I simply pointed out that in recent years, this country has been awarded a decent crop, and in fields in which it actually counts (for those who insist on counting at all).

    Your point would be better addressed to wtfjapan, I think.

  • 0

    cleo

    JaneM - I'm pretty sure it is. :-)

  • 0

    Bazza

    Is that the Tokyo University that came 30th in the world rankings?

    I always prefer the Tokyo Inst. of Technology or TIT, myself.

  • 0

    pizzatime

    You do not need to go to college to be considered "clever". (to begin with!) These cats have no idea. A clever guy will accomplish whatever without having to sit on his butt listening to a teacher for 5 years.

  • 0

    cleo

    Is there a "Top of the Pops" of institutes of higher learning?

    Kind of, except that it's based on a set of criteria, not record sales.

    This year the third top university in the UK was Oxford. Top was Cambridge, and second was LSE. Of the top 30 unis, 5 were colleges of London University. Dunno why the London colleges are ranked separately, when the Oxbridge ones are ranked together.

    http://www.thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk/league-tables/rankings

  • 2

    ChibaChick

    I knew a girl who went to Todai. She was VERY smart. Graduated top of her economics class. Applied to the Bank of Japan and was immediately offered a position - but unlike her male graduating classmates, not on the management stream because, well, you know - babies n all that. She went off and did an MBA in Pennsylvania and was then snapped up by one of the worlds top consulting firms. When I met her - and this is poetry - she was on a bus from the airport. Sent over to Japan to consult on some important economic issues. The client? Bank of Japan!

  • -1

    Ah_so

    This year the third top university in the UK was Oxford. Top was Cambridge, and second was LSE. Of the top 30 unis, 5 were colleges of London University. Dunno why the London colleges are ranked separately, when the Oxbridge ones are ranked together.

    I realize this thread is becoming more concerned with naming Britain's 3rd best university, but there are a huge number of studies, but Imperial is normally considered the 3rd best. I have to say, I think the survey you cite is a bit dubious, giving too much weight to "employment prospects".

    The Times Top 100 in the World puts Harvard at #1, Oxford at 4th, Tokyo at 8th, Imperial at 14th and LSE languishing at 25th.

  • 1

    Yubaru

    How on Earth can anyone rank universities?

    Quite easy actually.

  • 1

    cleo

    lol 25th in the world is hardly 'languishing'. If all the London colleges were taken together, I wonder what their ranking would be? And where would Oxbridge be if all their colleges were ranked separately against other, whole universities? I think what it all boils down to is that there is no set-in-stone ranking; it all depends on what your criteria are and what you consider important. People scoffing that Tokyo isn't a good university because it's 'only' #8 worldwide aren't quite getting it, methinks.

  • -1

    sfjp330

    Where is the individual innovation from top Japanese Universities? Japan has enough people who belong to groups. The parents of today’s children must not them to be trapped in the current system which is headed for failure. Japan needs young people who think as individuals and who are willing to change the system. It can not be done by consensus.

  • 0

    dieLegende

    Cleverer? Is this article all about laughing? I go to a german University, which got no ranking, and also no incredible high tuition fees. This year, due to my grades, i was able to get a scholarship which allows me to do an exchange year at a top-notch japanese University. Not Todai, which is being announced to join my Universitys' Exchange programm in the next year, but another one, which already sent a lot of students to our place. And of course there are not dumb, but i would consider them rather normal, just like me! :)

    I got top grades, but i wont ever be able to join a University like Todai on a normal basis. They are all way too expensive. I really cant understand people who are willing to pay for those Universities. Its just insane! Even if i could, i definitly wouldn't. Right now i also got top level classes, by only paying about 200$ a year of University Fees. Think about it!

  • 1

    papasmurfinjapan

    @wtfjapan

    all the confindence in the world will not help you if you dont have good common sense and creative thinking skills.

    Thanks for stating the blatantly obvious. My point was from meeting people that go to top tier universities, it is not their intellect that stands out, but their confidence in themselves, at least compared to "normal" university students. Of course confidence alone is not enough to get you anywhere.

    Still, I think it's funny reading all us gaijin complain about how uninnovative Japanese people are, when they are the same people that have pretty much been the world's leading innovators in everything from automobiles to home appliances for at least the past 30 years, with perhaps the exception of the iPod. I bet most of you drive Japanese cars, watch Japanese TVs, use Japanese videos and cameras etc. etc.

    Innovation and creative thinking is not just measured in the number of Nobel laureates you know.

  • -4

    Probie

    No. They aren't.

    I have worked with many of them, and work with many now. They are mostly people who are really smart in one subject, but lack any real common sense.

    A couple of the people I've known have been the weirdest, most annoying, socially inept people I have ever met.

  • 1

    Yubaru

    I go to a german University, which got no ranking, and also no incredible high tuition fees.

    Japanese Universities tuition costs are a drop in the bucket CHEAP compared to many if not most US Universities. Heck my son goes to a decent private University in the US and it costs OVER $50,000.00 (US) per year for tuition, room and board. That's roughly 5,000,000 yen. That is 75,282.06 DM.

  • 4

    cleo

    i wont ever be able to join a University like Todai on a normal basis. They are all way too expensive.

    Todai is a public university, the fees it charges are the same as the fees of any other Japanese public university and a lot cheaper than the fees charged by any private Japanese university or the top-level UK universities. Plus as I mentioned earlier, as a Todai student you find people literally throwing money at you in terms of scholarships, grants, etc. You even get to charge more for your time as a private tutor.

  • -1

    megosaa

    "clever" and "street smart" are 3 different things.

  • 0

  • 2

    papasmurfinjapan

    What really matters is not where your university is ranked as a whole, but where the course you studied is ranked. Who cares is Todai is ranked number 1 in Biochemisty if you studied French literature?

  • 0

    Yubaru

    Todai is a public university, the fees it charges are the same as the fees of any other Japanese public university and a lot cheaper than the fees charged by any private Japanese university

    Actually in reality no it is not a public university. It is a "University Corporation" that receives public funding but then private universities as well receive public funds too.

  • 1

    Yubaru

    Still, I think it's funny reading all us gaijin complain about how uninnovative Japanese people are, when they are the same people that have pretty much been the world's leading innovators in everything from automobiles to home appliances for at least the past 30 years

    The reality is though that until recently the image of Japan was that it was very good at making other people's inventions better. Even many Japanese thought that way as well. They could take something from some other place and make it better but had a hard, if not impossible, time of creating something from scratch on their own.

    • Moderator

      All readers back on topic please. The subject is Tokyo University students.

  • 0

    papasmurfinjapan

    The reality is though that until recently the image of Japan was that it was very good at making other people's inventions better.

    That's what Apple has been doing for decades, and most people agree they are one of the most "innovative" companies in the world. You don't have to invent something from scratch to be innovative or original.

    But just in case you doubt Japan's ability to invent great things, look at this and tell me I'm wrong.

    http://www.weirdworm.com/10-bizarre-japanese-inventions/

  • -1

    Yubaru

    Smurf.....You and pick and choose what you want to quote to make your point I understand that, but you missed the important part of what I was replying to....."for at least the past 30 years" and with that there is little argument.

  • 0

    papasmurfinjapan

    @ Yubaru, sorry I don't really understand your point. Are you saying they haven't innovated because you believe they haven't invented anything from scratch?

  • 0

    cleo

    Actually in reality no it is not a public university. It is a "University Corporation" that receives public funding but then private universities as well receive public funds too.

    The fees are still half what the private unis charge. It was the supposed expense that dieLegende was concerned about.

  • 3

    Phil Stilwell

    I've been teaching critical thinking courses at Todai for about five years now. With a sample of about 150 Todai students to compare to about 600 or 700 students from other universities, I can unequivocally state that Todai Students are far more aggressive, determined and innovative than the average Japanese university student. Gakushuin students are not far behind. These students have personalities similar to the average westerner. Their willingness to be an individual in a crowd seems to be what enables them to excel to degrees far above their peers. It seems this personality type is what drives learning, which in turn leads to greater general intelligence.

  • -1

    Ah_so

    lol 25th in the world is hardly 'languishing'.

    Cleo, of course 25th is not 'languishing' - it was merely a rhetorical flourish.

  • -1

    wipeout

    I realize this thread is becoming more concerned with naming Britain's 3rd best university, but there are a huge number of studies, but Imperial is normally considered the 3rd best.

    Especially by people who went there, no doubt.

    That little discrepancy between you and Cleo rather nicely illustrated the futility of saying a university is "in the top 3". Thanks for the help, guys. My point about the rest of us not knowing (or much caring) which it actually should be is validated.

  • -2

    wtfjapan

    @papa yes but Japan didnt build its economy on new ideas they took somebody elses idea and worked hard to make it better, optical discs, cars, motorcycles stereos, etc etc etc were not invented by Japanese, like I stated before very few of the 20th centuries new inventions were though of by japanese, and that is becasue Japanese arnt taught to think independantly, just follow the norm. Now China has come along and taken over what Japan had been doing only much cheaper.

  • -2

    wtfjapan

    @papa DVD/CD aka optical discs, cars, TVs, videos and cameras name me any home appliance that was actually invented by Japanese.

  • 0

    wipeout

    but Japan didnt build its economy on new ideas they took somebody elses idea and worked hard to make it better, optical discs, cars, motorcycles stereos, etc etc etc were not invented by Japanese, like I stated before very few of the 20th centuries new inventions were though of by japanese, and that is becasue Japanese arnt taught to think independantly, just follow the norm.

    Cars and motorcycles were 19th century inventions. They're also a class of invention that were conceptualized quite a long time before they were realized, as were aircraft, and so rather than simply being invented, came about through a number of developments, in various countries, and often independently of each other. No single country can really lay claim to inventing the car, and the only certain thing is that is that it wasn't the country that contributed most to mass production of vehicles and to rapidly establishing a car culture - the United States.

    Stereo - that again has a long development not limited to a specific country. This is a description, again from the 19th century "Every one who has been fortunate enough to hear the telephones at the Palais de l'Industrie has remarked that, in listening with both ears at the two telephones, the sound takes a special character of relief and localization which a single receiver cannot produce... This phenomenon is very curious, it approximates to the theory of binauricular audition, and has never been applied, we believe, before to produce this remarkable illusion to which may almost be given the name of auditive perspective."

    You can clearly hear the basis for stereo sound in that description; but the devices that comprise modern audio were American (gramophone) German (audio tape), and international (radio). So Japanese didn't "invent" what you call stereos, but no one else did really, either. They're a conglomeration of separate technologies.

    The same international origins apply to the development of photography, film, and television. While Japan had nothing to do with any of these in their early stages, they're all things that came about through people's ideas in more than one country, and through people adding to ideas or devices that already existed.

    But I guess a lot of people have a strong emotional investment in the idea that the Japanese don't invent - because they can't invent. Seems a bit trivial to me.

  • -2

    yourock

    no. to answer the question

    according to Cleo's link I went to the UK's 5th and 13th best uni. can sleep well...haha.

  • 0

    ChibaChick

    So actually it seems the answer to this question is define "clever" and define how you measure it.

  • 0

    kurisupisu

    All these bright Japanese students yet a scarcity of Nobel prizes???

    I'll leave it to the gaijin intellectuals to save the world then....

  • 3

    Frungy

    kurisupisuApr. 24, 2013 - 11:32PM JST All these bright Japanese students yet a scarcity of Nobel prizes???

    Come now, be fair. Japan is naturally out of the running for Nobel prizes in literature and similar categories since their main language isn't English, and historically they were recovering from WW2 for quite a while, so let's look at nobel prizes for science in the current millenium:

    Shinya Yamanaka, Physiology or Medicine, 2012 Ei-ichi Negishi*, Chemistry, 2010 Akira Suzuki, Chemistry, 2010 Osamu Shimomura*, Chemistry, 2008 Makoto Kobayashi, Physics, 2008 Toshihide Maskawa, Physics, 2008 Yoichiro Nambu*, Physics, 2008 Masatoshi Koshiba, Physics, 2002 Koichi Tanaka, Chemistry, 2002 Ryōji Noyori, Chemistry, 2001 Hideki Shirakawa, Chemistry, 2000

    11 nobel prizes for the hard sciences in the last 13 years. I exclude nobel prizes for literature, economics, peace and other similar categories since the judging criteria are far too subjective and as such it ends up as a political issue rather than one of merit.

    • Moderator

      All readers please stay on topic. Readers, from here on, posts that do not refer to Tokyo University students will be removed.

  • 2

    papasmurfinjapan

    @wtf

    In 2011, Japan was granted the most patents in the world, with 238,323 patents granted. The USA came in second, with China a distant third. Among the US patent office's top 10 list of patent holding organisations, 6 are Japanese companies.

    We will probably never know how many of those patent applicants went to Todai alumni, but I presume at least a few of them did. Todai, as an incorporated entity alone holds 436 international patents. For a look at the different patents held by Todai, I direct you to this page.

    http://www.ducr.u-tokyo.ac.jp/jp/pp/

    Hardly the work of mindless uncreative drones, wouldn't you agree?

  • 1

    papasmurfinjapan

    After a bit more browsing the web, it seems Todai ranks 7th in the world for patent applications among academic institutions. Kyoto, Osaka and Tohoku are also (unsurprisingly) in the top 25. Cambridge is somewhere in the mid 30s, and Oxford doesn't even make the top 50.

    http://www.wipo.int/pressroom/en/articles/2012/article_0001.html

    So if new inventions, innovation, and creativeness are yardsticks by which we are going to judge Todai students, then empirical evidence in the way of granted patent applications shows they have something other students lack - maybe it is brains, more likely it is just funding... but let's just admit Tokyo University holds its own against the world's best, and those of us complaining about it are really only doing so because we are jealous that we weren't smart enough to go there.

  • 0

    gokai_wo_maneku

    It is strange how so many people here seem to know all about Todai and all the students. Even though you never went there or probably never even visited there. Talk about stereotypical thinking! And you think our education at Todai was bad? What doe that say about yours? We are a very diverse group.

  • -1

    peanut666

    Yes, yes they are. Do you know why? Because they have everyone fooled.

  • -3

    toshiko

    Students who enter to Tokyo Universities with top entrance scores are the children who have habit to study their one year's subjects in school before first semester begins.(spring since kindergarten time to enter 1st grade) They usually have excellent memory power. culculus is easiest. they just memorize textbooks of histoy, geography, science, literature, etc. , too. When teachers ask questions, they answer better than teachers know. At home, they use many reference books.

  • -3

    Thomas Anderson

    Are Tokyo University students cleverer than other people?

    No... they're just better at memorizing some useless information for their bizarre entrance exams.

  • -3

    toshiko

    Are Tokyo University students cleverer than other people?,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, At least they are cleverer than people who never went school beyond HS. Smart enough that corporations hire them than HS only uneducated people. Clevere than peole who can't memorize simple instrucions. If you have relatives who went Tokyo U. observe them to find out.

  • -3

    toshiko

    If your children major Engineering related courses, be careful, You might have your TV and gadgets disassembled until tomorrow.

  • -3

    toshiko

    This is oneTodai Graduate of Todai who received Nobel Prize(Peace). Eisaku Sato, former priminister of Japan. He was a younger brother of Nobusuke Kishi who is a grandfather of current Prime Minister of Japan, Mr, Shinzo Abe. Mr. Kishi was also Todai graduate and received UN Peace Prize. Todai Graduates seem to be able to recognized internationally.

  • -3

    toshiko

    Todai alumnus usually get secured jobs. Sure video porno making is easy now and makers may get one time hit but do noit know their next game will hit or not. Their business is not steady and they usually wind up in lengthy prison life. Meanwhile Todai alumnus enjoy big salaries and have positions in commanding employees. If your grandchildren are brilliant, encourage them ti attend Today, Better than sending to Harvard or Yale.

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