Global Universities at a Glance | What an Ordinary Man Can Strive to Achieve: Japan’s Osaka University

International Affairs Division 2021-09-15 427


In Japan, there goes a saying that, “You have to be a genius if you want to get admitted to the University of Tokyo or Kyoto University. But if you’re just an everyman, then forgive me, there’s a limit to your effort. And that limit to an everyman’s effort is probably what you have to reach in order to enter the School of Engineering Science at Osaka University.” For this saying, Osaka University responded with an alumnus interview. “Just because I am an ordinary man, I have to work harder than everybody else,” said Mr. Shirakuni Noriyuki, who takes charge of the Shinkansen bullet train team in Japan’s Central Shinkansen Project. He graduated from what he called the place where an everyman has to work hard to the extreme, the School of Engineering Science at Osaka University.

The main campus of Osaka University is located in Yamadaoka, Suita City, Osaka Prefecture, and other campuses are in Nakanoshima, Osaka City, Machikaneyama, Toyonaka City, and Aomatani-higashi, Minoh City in Osaka Prefecture. The official logo of Osaka University is a Ginkgo leaf, which was probably inspired by the Ginkgo boulevard on its Toyonaka campus. Every spring and summer, lush Ginkgo trees give welcome shade from the sun. And during the university festivals every autumn, the yellow leaves fall down in the wind, covering the ground like a golden carpet, a unique signal of changing seasons. Given the distinctive landform of the Osaka Prefecture, the campuses of Osaka University are mostly built on the hills, surrounded by fascinating natural beauty. And they are also home to some animals, including Japanese raccoon dogs. But more astonishingly, sometimes wild boars can also be seen in droves. Records show that crocodile fossils dating back to 300,000 to 500,000 years ago were excavated on the Toyonaka campus. And according to some alumni, the excavated fossilized crocodiles were named “Machikaneyama crocodiles” after the Mount Machikane, which have, since after, become the mascot of the university.

Some alumni of Osaka University are well-renowned figures, and among them the most famous one would be Tezuka Osamu. As the creator of the comics series Astro Boy and he was hailed as Japan’s greatest manga artist. Moreover, the protagonist Yukawa Manabu, a professor of physics in the Japanese television drama Galileo is based on Yukawa Hideki, who is also an alumnus of Osaka University. He received his PhD after working at School of Science for as long as 6 years. And it was at Osaka University that he published the paper that would later made him the laureate of the Nobel Prize in Physics.

A series of illustrations for the 11 universities in the Kansai region, Japan:]”


A Japanese netizen made a series of illustrations for the top 11 universities in the Kansai region based on the results of a questionnaire. In the questionnaire, the most chosen keywords for Osaka University are “serious” and “eyeglasses”, and “fashionable” and “frivolous” are regarded as least relevant words. In comparison to the “genius with individuality” image of Kyoto University, Osaka University is illustrated as a “hardworking straight A student”, a description also suitable for Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU), who does not seem to be affected by the bustling downtown Shanghai and still gives the air of wisdom, prudence, pragmatism and diligence. And this may explain why SJTU started communication and cooperation with Osaka University in as early as 1979, forging a friendship that has lasted for nearly half a century. The cooperation has expanded from materials welding at the very beginning to a vast array of fields including engineering, science, humanities, and life science after 40-odd years, which demonstrates that our profound and longstanding friendship has helped produce fruitful results. A total of 21 intercollegiate academic workshops have been held in succession, and 11 excellent projects have been supported by the bilateral strategic partnership seed fund for two consecutive years. And the two sides are working on joint doctoral programs in material science, physics, and information science, in a bid to explore a new model for international talent development.

It is the hard work of ordinary people makes Osaka University extraodinary.

(Acknowledgements to Zhang Ruining for firsthand experience at Osaka University)


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