Half-Century of Friendship between Bhutan and Kyoto University

The relationship between Bhutan and Kyoto University was established in 1957, when Professors Takeo Kuwabara and Johji Ashida guided Her Majesty Ashi Kesang Choeden Wangchuck, Queen of the Third King of Bhutan, throughout her visit to Kyoto. Formal diplomatic relations were not established between Bhutan and Japan until 1986, 29 years after the Royal visit to Kyoto.


Following this seminal meeting, Her Majesty Ashi Kesang Choeden Wangchuck invited the first Japanese visitor to Bhutan in 1958: Dr. Sasuke Nakao, a graduate of Kyoto University.

Dasho Nishioka, the Most Well-known Japanese Person in Bhutan
After Nakao's visit, one of his students, Dasho Keiji Nishioka also visited Bhutan, in 1964. The late Dasho Nishioka (1933-1992) is still the most well-known Japanese person within Bhutan, renowned for his outstanding contribution to agriculture.

Since 1964, many Kyoto University teams have undertaken exploration and research activities in Bhutan.

In 1985, 'Kyoto University Bhutan Himalaya Expedition' achieved the first ascent of Mt. Masa Gang (7,200 m).


Founding of the Kyoto University Bhutan Friendship Program

In 2010, Professors Tetsuro Matsuzawa and Kozo Matsubayashi and colleagues visited Bhutan as representatives of Kyoto University. On October 19th, the team met with His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the Fourth King of Bhutan, and the Kyoto University Bhutan Friendship Program (KU-Bhutan) was subsequently launched.

Kyoto University deepened its relationship with Bhutan through agreement and signing of Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) in 2012 and 2013;
- March 2012: MoU between the Center for Southeast Asian Studies Kyoto University and Ministry of Health (MoH) in Bhutan signed
- August 2013: MoU between Kyoto University and the Royal University of Bhutan signed
- October 2013: MoU between Kyoto University Hospital and JDW National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) and MoH in Bhutan signed

Kyoto University, acting as a bridge between Japan and Bhutan, aims to build an equal partnership with Bhutan in research, education and input. The Kyoto University Bhutan Friendship Program, KU-Bhutan, aims to play a key role in strengthening and further developing the friendship and important collaboration between Bhutan and Kyoto University.

Bhutan and Kyoto University 60th Anniversary Memorial Events

Her Royal Highness Princess Sonam Dechan Wangchuck has now returned safely to the King of Bhutan, having further strengthened the friendship between Bhutan and Kyoto University and shared many memorable moments over the course of the visit.

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Himalayan Study Monographs