If you’ve ever looked at jobs online in Japan, you might have found some good-looking posts only to realize later that they aren’t in Tokyo. It is true that the majority of foreigners, and jobs looking for foreigners, are in Tokyo. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t good opportunities outside of Kanto. For example, there are many opportunities for foreigners in Osaka. This guide is for foreigners living in Japan who might want to move away from Tokyo and some of the pros and cons of choosing Osaka.

Basic Information

Japan’s Third Largest City

The population of Tokyo’s 23 Wards dwarfs any other city’s population at over 9.7 million residents. That is over a million more than New York City, 7 million more than Paris, and only a couple hundred thousand more than London. Osaka is much tamer, at about 2.7 million residents as of August 2021 data. This means that Osaka comes in third after Tokyo and Yokohama. While this may seem small, it means that Osaka has about the same population as Paris.

Kansai and the ‘Keihanshin’ area

As anyone who has been to Osaka will tell you, part of what makes the city great is its proximity to Kobe and Kyoto. The whole area is called the Keihanshin area (京阪神) for Kyoto, Osaka, and Kobe. While the larger area and surrounding prefectures make up Kansai, Keihanshin only refers to these three metropolitan areas. From Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe are about an hour by train and for less than 1,500 yen depending on the train line you use. Taken as a group, the Keihanshin area’s population tops 5 million and provides options for both jobs and play in three different cities.

Japan’s Funny Bone

Kansai is considered the humor center of Japan. From the dialect to the unique culture, Osaka is the big time for comedians. If you’ve watched Japanese variety television or the yearly M-1 Grand Prix, you have probably even heard the dialect before. Osaka is also the home of Yoshimoto, the entertainment company that manages some of Japan’s most famous comedians. Humor is one of the hardest things to master in a foreign language, but Osaka’s obsession with comedy makes it a great place to bring your Japanese to the next level.

Comparing to Tokyo


There is no doubt about it, Tokyo is expensive. With Japanese apartments being so tiny, it can feel even more expensive to shelling out half your paycheck for a one-room apartment. According to the Japanese real-estate site Suumo, the average rent in Tokyo’s more popular wards is about 70,000 to 90,000 yen per month for a one-room apartment. On the same site, similarly sized apartments in Osaka average between 40,000 and 60,000 yen.

A difference in pay expectations offsets this cost. Still, price gaps only get more pronounced as you look at larger apartments. In the 2LDK category–pretty much the minimum for anyone looking to start a family–the average cost of an Osaka apartment tops out at around 120,000 yen per month. In Tokyo, apartments of this size begin near 150,000 yen and max out at nearly 250,000 yen in Minato-ku.

Price Versus Quality of Life 

As we saw with rent, Tokyo is much more expensive than Osaka. But this disparity actually goes further than just rent; Tokyo has ranked as one of the most expensive places to live for years. In 2021, Tokyo ranked fourth globally (an improvement over 2020’s third-place rank, but still very high). Luckily, Tokyo also scored fourth on the same Global Livability index; while costly, it has the infrastructure and quality of life to match its price.

But! Tokyo isn’t the highest-scoring Japanese city on the list. As of the 2021 rankings, Tokyo loses to Osaka in both livability and expense. While Tokyo took fourth place in the cost of living, Osaka came in at a reasonable 24th. Of course, this means Osaka is one of the most expensive cities in the world. Still, it is on an entirely different scale when compared to Tokyo. Regardless of the vast difference in cost of living, Osaka comes in second for global livability. Think about that, Osaka ranks 20 spots lower than Tokyo in price but still comes out on top in terms of livability.

Expat Communities

There is no getting around it; Tokyo has the most foreigners than any other city in Japan. According to 2020 immigration data, the population of foreigners in Tokyo was more than double that of Osaka. Adding neighboring prefectures like Chiba or Kyoto to the calculation only makes the difference more pronounced.

Osaka isn’t the middle of nowhere, but the difference in size means that the communities of foreigners in the area are smaller and might mean fewer opportunities to interact with non-Japanese people. Of course, if you’re looking for greater cultural immersion, this is great. But, it might not be so great if you are prone to homesickness and prefer to be around more people fluent in your native language.

Getting Home

It won’t surprise you, but Tokyo has by far the most direct international flights of any airport in Japan. Narita has 114 direct foreign destinations in 41 countries. This is more than double Kansai’s biggest airport, Kansai International Airport (KIX), with 52 destinations in 20 countries. While KIX does have routes to most of the world, there is a chance you will have to transfer planes or stop in Tokyo.

Jobs in Kansai


With the difference in size, it makes sense that there are fewer opportunities in Osaka than in Tokyo. Still, the difference is probably more minor than you might think. Because the population of Kanto is more than five times larger than Kansai, you might assume that there would be five times as many jobs available to foreigners, but it is a little more complicated than that.

According to the Japan Institute for Labor Policy and Training, the number of open jobs per job seeker in each city is almost the same as of June 2021 (Tokyo 1.15 v.s. Osaka 1.17). Unfortunately, this data doesn’t make clear the number of jobs geared towards foreign workers. Looking at different sites will give wildly different answers to this question. As of September 2021, on Gaijinpot, there are only 14 more open jobs in the Kanto area than in Kansai, but on Linkedin, Tokyo has more than 20 times more jobs than Osaka. 


While the number of jobs available to foreigners in Tokyo and Osaka is unclear, what’s clear is the kinds of jobs available. Both cities have a fair number of English teaching and ALT jobs available for both local Boards of Education, larger ALT companies, and Eikaiwa schools. While the number is undoubtedly smaller in Osaka, there are still more positions than teachers available in both areas. Searches for general translation and customer support positions across several industries like Travel, Tech, and Gaming return a couple of hundred results for Osaka and swells to nearly a thousand if including surrounding prefectures. Even amid Emergency Declarations and a stop on almost all international travel, there are still some hotel industry jobs available in Osaka, including hotel front desk and even a few managerial positions.

 Even for more specialized jobs, many posts appear open to foreign talent: for example, Engineering posts written entirely in English. At the time of writing, these include numerous openings at places like Google, Amazon, and Rakuten (14 pages of results on Linkedin in all).

Wrap Up

Well, I hope that gave you a little more insight into Osaka as a place to work and live. While there are plenty of reasons to look for work in Tokyo, there are many great reasons to consider jobs in Osaka.

If you’re looking for work in Osaka, we are always hiring. Feel free to check out our job board for the latest in ZenMarket positions.

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