History of the University
Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine was established in 1872 (5th year of the Meiji Era) and is one of the oldest prefectural/municipal medical universities in Japan with a history spanning 140 years.
The process leading to the establishment of Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine was quite unique. From 1868 (1st year of the Meiji Era), the people of Kyoto had called upon the Japanese government to create a hospital in Kyoto Prefecture for teachers of Western medicine. However, the government was unable to grant their wish following the relocation of Japan’s capital from Kyoto to Tokyo. As a result, the citizens of Kyoto took it upon themselves to collect monetary contributions from temples, shops in entertainment areas, and the general population, and were ultimately successful in realizing their long-cherished dream of creating a prefectural hospital. Kyoto Prefecture was then asked to take over the operation and the hospital was built inside the grounds of the famous “Shoren-in” Temple located in the Higashiyama district of Kyoto. A renowned German doctor was then invited to give medical lectures at that facility once completed.
Up until that time, in many medical universities the educational facilities, the colleges were established first, with affiliated hospitals later being set up as training centers for those institutions. In the case of Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine, however, a hospital prioritized around providing medical care for the people of Kyoto was established first, with the university being set up later as a place to cultivate human resources and to undertake general healthcare and promote medical science for the hospital. Since that time, Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine has set forth on the mission of cultivating doctors and medical scientists of the highest caliber, healthcare professionals capable of responding to the needs of the surrounding communities. From that time and up to the present day, this policy has been strictly adhered to and has subsequently gained the absolute trust of the people of Kyoto, who affectionately refer to the facility as the “Prefectural Med School” or the “Prefectural Med School Hospital.”
As a result of the Japanese educational reforms of 1952, the facilities officially became known as Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine. In addition, a Graduate School (medical research department/doctoral course) was established in 1957, as well as adjunct facilities such as a Medical Care Center in 1971, an affiliated Children’s Research Hospital (popularly called the “Kyoto Prefectural Children’s Hospital”) in 1982, and an affiliated Research Institute for Neurological Diseases and Geriatrics in 1990.
The Nursing Department was first established in 1889 with the opening of an affiliated training school for midwives (later officially established as a separate department of the University in April 2002) following changes made to the affiliated Professional Nursing School under the “special course” school system in 1976 and the parallel establishment of a Junior College Department of Medical Sciences in 1993.
Interestingly, many of the original prefectural and municipal universities have now been transformed into official national universities of Japan; e.g., Osaka Prefectural Medical School became Osaka University Medical Faculty and Aichi Prefectural Medical School became Nagoya University Medical Faculty. However, Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine declined the invitation to become a national university due to the institution’s desire to retain its high level of academic freedom and independence, thus side-stepping control by the Education Ministry (the current Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology). To that regard, Kyoto University (a national institution) and Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine (a prefectural/municipal institution) are now located on opposite sides of the Kamo River from one another and are often viewed as competing universities, albeit in the best of favorable senses.