By Ririka Takahashi 

Just like many other universities, Todai has a lot of slangs which are often used only within the university. Ikato (イカ東) is one of them. Ikato is the abbreviation of Ikanimo-Todaisei (いかにも東大生), which directly translated as “Typical Todai Student.” The term Ikato is used for Todai students who dress or behave like a stereotypical Todai student. This term is seen in various occasions in Todai. For example, there was a Ikato cafe and an Ikato contest during the Komaba Festival. Within Todai students, the term Ikato is often received negatively. Jun Matsumoto, who participated in the Ikato contest shared his thoughts and opinions regarding Ikato.

Jun is a second year student who graduated from Kaisei Senior High School, a prestigious high school famous for its students’ high acceptance rate to the University of Tokyo. In high school, amongst all the intelligent students, Jun, with his outstanding academic results, was at the top of his class. Asked about the definition of Ikato, “It is difficult to define Ikato, as no one has precisely described it before,” Jun said. “It is the stereotypical image people have towards the students of the University of Tokyo. These are nerds, who have communication issues, as well as a terrible sense of fashion.”

Jun Matsumoto, 2nd year student and a participant of the Ikato contest. Photo by author.

Jun Matsumoto, 2nd year student and a participant of the Ikato contest. Photo by author.

With this definition, who would ever be happy to be called as Ikato? Jun explained, that the positive aspect of Ikato is little known amongst the general public. In reality, people who are called as Ikato are all very unique who have a great deal of personality. In the Ikato contest that was held during the Komaba Festival, the participants demonstrated their uniqueness in various ways. One ate insects, another shared his love towards an anime heroine, the other played the traditional Japanese instrument Shakuhachi, and Jun made a speech about his experience of his first love. The purpose of this contest was to show the unique original sides of students who are called as Ikato.

This contest gained a favorable reception amongst the audience. Jun, who was a contestant at the last Komaba festival, wants to see the contest continue in the next Komaba festival, this time, as an organizer. “I want to redefine the term Ikato, by dispelling the negative image, and focusing on the other side of it. The contest will help this cause a lot”, said Jun.

Ikato should be promoted more and more. Ikato students have their own ideas, and they are passionate students who devote themselves heavily to fields that interest them. They are cool!”

Ririka Takahashi is a first-year PEAK student at the University of Tokyo.


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