Japanese Universities


Japanese universities are usually 4 years, though medical and dental schools are 6 years and junior colleges are 2 years. After World War II, the present system was adopted with the first 2 years focused on liberal studies and the major subjects concentrated in the last 2 years.

What most distinguishes Japanese universities from the foreign universities is the difficulty of their entrance examination.

At one time, there was a saying "Yontou-goraku 四当五落 (four-pass, five-fail)" are used widely. It is a warning that anyone getting more than five hours of sleep a night will fail the university entrance examinations. Today, the entrance exam process for the national universities has two parts: a standard exam given by the National Center for University Entrance examinations, which everyone takes on the same day, and the university-specific exam administered by each school. The competition to get into the elite universities is very hard and admission to medical school is especially prized. 

In spite of the infamous juken jigoku 受験地獄 (examination hell), most Japanese universities are said to be hard to enter, but quite easy to graduate from. Of course, there are many Japanese university where the students are required to study hard before they can be granted a diploma, but a great number of university students seem to be laid-back.

In contrast to high international regard for Japanese elementary and secondary education, Japanese university education has no obtained high marks.

Translation Exercise

  • Most Japanese universities are said to be hard to enter, but quite easy to graduate from. 
  • Taiteino nihon no daigaku wa hairu no wa muzukashii ga, sotsugyo suru no wa yasashii to iwarete imasu.
  • たいていの日本の大学は入るのは難しいが、卒業するのはやさしいといわれています。 


"~to iwarete imasu" means "It is said ~".

  • It is said that green tea is good for health.
  • Ryoku-cha wa kenkou ni ii to iwarete imasu.
  • 緑茶は健康にいいといわれています。


taiteino たいていのmost
nihon no 日本のJapanese
daigaku 大学university
hairu はいるto enter
muzukashii 難しいhard
sotsugyousuru 卒業するto graduate
yasashii やさしいeasy