Temple Japan to expand to Kyoto next spring

The record increase in enrollment at Temple’s Japan campus made the expansion a possibility and a necessity.

Temple Japan is expanding to Kyoto in a year, developing along with the campus's growing student population. | COURTESY / GEORGE MILLER

Temple’s Japan Campus will open a new satellite campus in Kyoto in Spring 2025, expanding alongside its rising enrollment rates.

TUJ’s current student body consists of a record number of 2,202 undergraduate students from around the world, accounting for around an 80 percent increase in enrollment during the last three years. The new campus is intended to support an additional 150 to 200 students.

Temple signed the agreement on Feb. 9 to rent two buildings in Kyoto, after leadership started to prepare for the new campus as early as the beginning of 2023, said Matthew Wilson, TUJ’s dean and president.

“[Our leadership team in Tokyo] couldn’t believe that we were hearing that we had an opportunity in Kyoto,” Wilson said. “We started to talk to the leadership team here in Philadelphia about [how] this is going to help us serve our students. It’s distinctive to have a Tokyo experience and a Kyoto experience. It would be unbelievable, and no other university is offering [it].” 

TUJ is self-sustained by its own tuition, functioning separately from Main Campus in terms of budget. While Main Campus’ enrollment has declined by 10,000 students since 2019, which has contributed to budget cuts, TUJ has grown by more than 1,000 students since 2016. 

The growth meant that expanding became a necessity to accommodate the rising population, said Ayako Morohoshi, TUJ’s executive director of communications and marketing.

TUJ was established in 1982, making it the oldest American university in Japan. The campus offers the same curriculum as Main Campus and teaches American, Japanese and other international students in English. 

“It’s truly global in community, very diverse,” Morohoshi said. “It’s very unusual to get that kind of environment. That [is] a very important part of TUJ education.”

Kyoto remains close enough to its Tokyo campus for students to continue utilizing the pre-existing infrastructure and services. For example, students will continue to receive career services only in Tokyo but will attend classes and have access to new dorms in Kyoto.

“Kyoto is a satellite location,” Wilson said. “Instead of a distinct and separate campus where you have separate leadership, the Tokyo campus is going to be responsible for oversight. We’ll have local staff and faculty that we’ll be hiring, but everything is going to run out of Tokyo.”

About a two-hour bullet train ride from Tokyo where TUJ’s first campus is located, Kyoto will offer more cultural experiences for students and faculty to enjoy. 

As one of Japan’s oldest cities and once the capital of the country, Kyoto has preserved the oldest architecture in the country and developed many facets of Japanese culture, like tea ceremonies.

“Kyoto really is the cultural mecca of Japan,” Wilson said. “There are over 2,000 temples in Kyoto alone. In addition to that, the culture, the rock arranging, picturesque mountains and gardens that you might see. Kyoto gets you closer to nature. It has more of a spiritual sense to it.”

TUJ also hopes to provide a variety of academically broadening experiences in Kyoto. Similar to the Tokyo campus, the new campus will offer art, science and Japanese language classes, but it will also add additional campus-specific courses, like Kyoto Sketchbook and History and Culture of Kyoto. 

The Kyoto campus will be surrounded by large companies, like Nintendo and Panasonic, and other academic institutions like Kyoto University, which the university hopes students and faculty will get to interact with.

Benjamin Altschuler, a visiting assistant professor of tourism and hospitality management, believes TUJ brings opportunities for outcome-based research and the ability to observe the “good and bad” of Kyoto’s tourism and hospitality industry.

“I think you’re always looking, as a professor, for that unexplored territory, and this is that unexplored territory,” Altschuler said. “We have a chance to kind of be the first people on the ground, looking at the issues, understanding the issues.”

TUJ has since received additional offers from Nagasaki and Kobe to create campuses in their cities, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported

While the university will eventually be interested in further expansion, it’s currently focused on opening in Kyoto and isn’t considering the possibilities until the new campus is established.

Temple has also been in contact with neighboring universities in Tokyo to rent more buildings across the city and expand the Tokyo campus, Morohoshi said.

“I think it’s just been a mind-blowing kind of thing,” Altschuler said. “There’s something magical about the country.”

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