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The “Red Gate” to success

“Aka–mon” means “Red Gate” and, true to the name, Aka-mon is an Edo era vermilion gate that serves as one of the entrances to the Hongo campus of Tokyo University. The gate was built in 1827as an entrance to the feudal manor of the Maeda family, lords of Kaga, the area now known as Ishikawa. The gate became part of the campus when the university was established in 1876, and was designated as a national treasure in 1931. The structure underwent a major renewal in 1961. Local folklore states that Aka-mon is not to be rebuilt if destroyed in a disaster, a “knock-on-red-wood” maxim that has somehow protected the gate through Tokyo’s numerous conflagrations. Aka-mon also symbolizes Japan’s most prestigious university – Tokyo University – and for a student to enter therein signifies the height of success with Japan’s infamous “university hell” entrance exam.


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