Located in Kyoto, Japan's ancient imperial capital, The Doshisha was founded by Joseph Hardy Neesima of the Class of 1870, the first Japanese to graduate from a Western institution of higher learning. Neesima stowed away aboard a clipper ship from Japan while it was still officially "closed." From the China Coast he eventually arrived in New England in 1865 aboard a ship owned by Alpheus Hardy who was a trustee of both Phillips Academy, Andover, and Amherst College.
After graduating from both Andover and Amherst, Neesima returned to Japan to found a Christian college in Kyoto. From this modest start The Doshisha has developed into a University of 28,000 students, a separate (but adjacent) Women's College, four senior and junior high schools, an elementary school, an international academy, and a kindergarten, with a total enrollment of approximately 41,000 students on four different campuses. The fourteen faculties, fourteen graduate schools, two professional schools and various institutes of Doshisha University include a Center for American Studies. The Doshisha is one of the oldest and best known private educational institutions in Japan. The environs of Kyoto are among the finest in Japan for the study of classical art and architecture.
Through the generosity of alumni and friends of the college, Amherst House, a New England Georgian style residence, was built on the Doshisha campus in 1932 as a memorial to Neesima and to Stewart Burton Nichols of the Class of 1922, the first student representative. It houses faculty and researchers visiting Doshisha from overseas and serves as a center for cultural exchange between faculty and students from East and West.
Since 1958, a graduating senior has been selected as the Amherst-Doshisha Fellow to live on the Doshisha campus in Kyoto, represent Amherst College at Doshisha, and to advise students on international exchange. More than sixty Amherst graduates have served as the Amherst-Doshisha Fellow, and numerous Amherst faculty have participated in various activities taught at Doshisha.
In 1962 the college, thanks to further generosity of friends and alumni, built a Guest House of modern Japanese design, which includes well-appointed guest suites and dining facilities to enhance the possibilities of cultural exchange.
Since 1976 there has been an arrangement which permits a member of one of Doshisha’s six faculties (Theology, Letters, Law, Economics, Commerce, Engineering) to spend a year’s leave at Amherst. Amherst faculty are able to spend a semester or year leave at Doshisha as well. In 2001 a short-term exchange brought Doshisha faculty to Amherst, and sent Amherst faculty to Doshisha. Beginning in 2024 a semester-long teaching exchange between the two schools will be in place as well. Faculty members interested in the possibility of visiting Kyoto or doing academic research in Japan based at Doshisha University should consult with the president, the provost and dean of the faculty, the dean for global education, or the Amherst Doshisha Committee.