Lessons from the Past for Today and Tomorrow

Kyoto was once the beating heart of politics and culture as the seat of imperial power in Japan. With historic sites surviving from many periods throughout Japanese history, it is the perfect place to learn about the country’s past. Kyoto Seika takes full advantage of Kyoto’s rich heritage, and its students actively take part in fieldwork at historical sites around the city to complement their review of relevant literature. Students studying for a history course select a research topic of interest during any time in Japanese history from antiquity to the present-day. To research history is to learn from the people of the past. In addition to learning about past heroes, students focus on the ordinary people so often forgotten by history to understand how they lived in their time. Historical research is not simply a matter of learning about the past. It offers clues as to who we are now and what we may become in the future.

Subject Highlights

  • History of Kyoto

    Many historical sites and traditions have survived to the present day in Kyoto, including Heian Jingu Shrine and the city’s three major festivals: Aoi Matsuri, Gion Matsuri, and Jidai Matsuri. Students explore their historical backgrounds, attending lectures and conducting fieldwork that takes them to experience these sites and festivals for themselves.

  • Japanese Historical Studies

    Students gain a comprehensive understanding of the history of the Japanese archipelago from ancient to modern times by analyzing Japan's past from the three standpoints of region, society, and people. In doing so, they develop the multiple perspectives required for historical understanding, from the lifestyles of a people to the structure of its community.

What You Will Study

  1. 1STYEAR

    Learning the basics of the humanities

    Gaining a well-rounded understanding of all four courses
    In their first year, students learn the basics of literature, history, society, and Japanese culture to understand the different features and research methods employed in these fields before choosing their course. Students learn about elements of culture and the formation of modern society before pursuing a research topic that interests them.

    An extensive knowledge and language base as inspiration for self-reflection
    Students deepen their understanding of themselves and others through language and acquire the skills needed for research starting with the basics, including picking a suitable topic from among their interests, reviewing past research and conducting fieldwork, and summarizing and presenting their ideas in a logical manner.

  2. 2NDYEAR

    Choosing a Course to Study

    Building expertise
    Students choose to specialize in one of four courses : literature, history, society, or Japanese culture. They deepen their specialist knowledge by participating in lectures covering introductory topics or cultural history and seminars examining the literature under leading authorities in their chosen field and time period.

    Learning research methodologies in seminars
    Students explore their research topics in small-group seminars with peers who share their area of interest. In addition, students develop a research plan for their third-year fieldwork program under the guidance of their supervisor.

  3. 3RDYEAR

    Learning outside the university

    Conducting research through fieldwork
    Students go out into the field to test all that they have learned from their course. Students gain a genuine understanding through firsthand experience during a two-month period outside of campus, immersed in a different culture and society where they come in contact with diverse value systems. This experience gives them new perspectives, expands their horizons, and helps them develop original ideas.

    Verifying research findings
    After completing their program, students return to campus to reflect on their research. They collate the data and material they collected in the field and compile this into a report. Students report their research findings to faculty members and their peers and further deepen their understanding through feedback and discussion.

  4. 4THYEAR

    Graduation Research

    Giving shape to ideas
    Students prepare a graduation thesis on their ideas based on the deep knowledge they gained in the first three years. For students to write a logically coherent and readily comprehensible thesis on a topic they are interested in, supervisors provide one-on-one guidance every step of the way, from research planning to proofreading.

What You Will Learn

  • The ability to read and understand historical materials and ascertain the facts
  • The ability to see things from different angles
  • The ability to use knowledge of the past to consider the present and future

Past Theses

  • Japan’s “Traditional Performing Arts” Live On: The example of Yufukuji District’s Festival Music Preservation Society in Togo Town, Aichi Prefecture

    This thesis describes the hereto unrecorded history of festival music in the Yufukuji District while cataloging the current situation and issues facing the district's Festival Music Preservation Society. In particular, the thoughts and opinions of the local people (namely that of the preservation society) are incorporated into a consideration of how the region's traditional performing arts are perceived and what it means to safeguard these art forms for the local community today.

  • The Samurai Who Lost: The Late Edo, Warring States, and Azuchi-Momoyama Periods

    I consider the history of the losing samurai in the late Edo, Warring States, and Azuchi-Momoyama periods. There is a tendency to think that only the victors whose names were recorded for posterity forged an era; however, those who were defeated also played their part in history. Therefore, it is necessary to consider the past from multiple angles and not just from one point of view. This thesis examines the Shinsengumi in the late Edo period and the western armies in the Warring States and Azuchi-Momoyama periods.

  • The Family Crests, Flags, and Battle Standards of the Warring States Period: Their Origins and the Thought Behind Them

    This thesis explores the origins and thought behind the family crests, flags, and battle standards of four generals active during the Warring States period, known as the Four Heavenly Kings of the Tokugawa: SAKAI Tadatsugu, HONDA Tadakatsu, SAKAKIBARA Yasumasa, and II Naomasa. The research covers the early origins of family crests, explanations for the use of flags, banners, battle standards, the four men's personal history, and the reasons they were called the Four Heavenly Kings. It also offers thought processes behind their respective crests, flags, and standards as people who lived during the Warring States period.


Career Opportunities
Tour planner, curator, school teacher, business (career track), and many more.
Major Employers

Travel agencies, tourism and service industry, NPOs and NGOs, advertising, manufacturing, retail distribution, and many more.


  • IWAMOTO Shin-ichi Academic Faculty

    Reconstructing modern and contemporary Japanese history in the words of ordinary people rather than prominent historical figures

    The topic for my seminar is “Japanese Modern and Contemporary History.” Unlike the political history of modern and contemporary Japan taught at junior and senior high school, students in my seminar reconstruct history from the viewpoint of ordinary people like you and me. For example, I want my students to research how ordinary people—not the so-called heroes or major figures—were involved in history using diaries. personal accounts, and other historical materials written by the general public. I think this seminar is for students who feel uneasy about society today and would like to think about why this may be from a historical perspective.
  • YOSHIMOTO Kanami Academic Faculty

    Studying history at university can bring the past to life

    In my seminar, students learn about early-modern Japanese history from the feudal governments of ODA Nobunaga and TOYOTOMI Hideyoshi to the end of the Tokugawa shogunate. One feature of my seminar is a vivid account of history that brings the past to life, told not only in terms of politics and military might but also in terms of the occupations and livelihoods of ordinary people at the time. Students gain a comprehensive understanding of a past society by adopting the standpoint of the average person of the period. This approach also helps students better grasp their own relationship with society today. I hope you will take up the challenge of learning history as it can only be experienced at university.