Life as an expat in the Japanese second city of Osaka

Life as an expat in the Japanese second city of Osaka

Life as an expat in the Japanese second city of Osaka

For expats, there’s more to Japan than the overwhelming magic of Tokyo, with its second city Osaka known for its history and heritage as well as for its opportunities for expat professionals.

There’s no doubt that iconic Tokyo is one of the world’s most amazing cities, but Japan’s second city of Osaka has everything to offer to expatriates. Traditionally famous in Japan for its business and money-making opportunities, its proud heritage and the depth of its commercial roots make it an exciting choice for adventurous foreign professionals. For incomers fascinated by Japan’s earlier history, Osaka is just a short train ride from Kyoto with its stunning temples and ancient traditions.

It’s true that the majority of expats choose or are reassigned to Tokyo, as the city is strong on job opportunities and is stunningly cosmopolitan whilst retaining its unique historic links, but Osaka is decidedly different due to its ‘personality’ as an historic centre for commerce and business. One Japanese saying equates Tokyo with bureaucrats and politicians whilst Osaka is home to gangsters and merchants, but Japan’s second city is also known for its natural energy and its welcome to expats from all corners of the world.

One downside for those considering the city is its cost of living – high even by Japanese standards and considered more expensive than London. However, as with many worldwide destinations, living like a local can mean considerable savings as well as a totally different expat experience. One way to save money on taxis is to make use of the city’s iconic canal network and its free public riverboat transportation system. At night, the canal’s neon lights give a mysterious glow to their surroundings.

A favourite with Japanese IT manufacturers, Osaka’s historically influential profile is adorned by major international events including the G20 Summit and the upcoming 2025 World Expo. Playing host to major events is one of the city’s strengths, although historic buildings and examples of Japan’s unique, ancient culture are thin on the ground. Even Osaka Castle, set at the city’s heart, isn’t the original as it was rebuilt from a ruin in 1931, the last of many reconstructions of the 16th century classic Japanese fort.

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