Japan
May 2024
1 week

Osaka

Everything you need for an exceptional Japanese experience.

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Japan's third-largest city is renowned for its acclaimed culinary scene and rich historical landmarks.

Its strategic location as a major port city has contributed to its significance in regional trade and commerce.

Verdict:
Highly recommended

What I saw as the ideal base to work remotely from in the country if in search of an intense and memorable Japanese experience. Worthy of any holiday itinerary when in the country.

🌎
Verdict:
Highly recommended

What I saw as the ideal base to work remotely from in the country if in search of an intense and memorable Japanese experience. Worthy of any holiday itinerary when in the country.

Verdict:
Highly recommended

What I saw as the ideal base to work remotely from in the country if in search of an intense and memorable Japanese experience. Worthy of any holiday itinerary when in the country.

👎
Verdict:
Highly recommended

What I saw as the ideal base to work remotely from in the country if in search of an intense and memorable Japanese experience. Worthy of any holiday itinerary when in the country.

🛫
Japanese Yen (JPY)
2.7 Million
🏝️ Great for a holiday
🥇 Top rated

Summary

Having acclimatised to Japan with a tranquil week in Fukuoka and a sombre couple of nights in Hiroshima, I was itching for the full force of a Japanese metropolis.

Osaka did not disappoint.

Accommodation
Great
Good
Ok
Bad

Considering its size and popularity as a tourist destination, accommodation in Osaka was remarkably better value than in Tokyo. Like most cities in Japan, hotels are your best bet, but Airbnb offered more options than smaller cities. It looked like you should be able to get a decent flat for around $1,000 for a month on Airbnb which appeared impossible in Tokyo.

I spent 7 nights at the recently renovated Super Hotel Osaka, a short walk from Awaza metro station. While there's nothing of interest in the immediate vicinity, it's within easy walking distance of the hubs of Umeda and Namba.

I'd wholeheartedly recommend it for a couple of reasons:

  1. /It has an excellent Japanese onsen (thermal bath) in the basement floor, with segregated spaces for men and women including hot springs, cold plunges and a sauna. It's open until 1 AM, so there's plenty of time to use it after work, providing the perfect antidote for long days of exploring the city on foot.
  2. It offers exceptional value at £45 per night, ticking many boxes with a room, spa access and a working environment on the ground floor.
There are not many things more satisfying after a long day of exploring than a soak in thermal waters.
info
New legislation
Recent changes introduced by the Turkish government has made short-term rentals for under 100 days more restricted. Keep an eye on Reddit threads for up-to-date assessments of how the new legislation is impacting short-term rentals in practice.
Places to work
Great
Good
Ok
Bad

Finding a suitable workspace in Osaka is painless. WeWork has three locations in the city, and there are numerous domestic coworking operators spread across all the major hubs.

Chain coffee shops, which are open late into the evening, generally have dedicated working areas suitable for a couple of hours of productivity.

Most hotels also feature some form of workspace in their communal areas, handy for getting things done early or late in the day.

Value
Great
Good
Ok
Bad

Prices for day-to-day expenses were on par with cities across the rest of the country. Accommodation felt particularly good value considering its status as a big tourist draw compared to Tokyo.

info
The yen is currently at a 34-year low
While this is undoubtedly a negative for the Japanese, it makes for an exceptionally good time to visit Japan from abroad. Although this trend is unlikely to reverse significantly in the short term, it's still worth checking before visiting.
Read more
View the cost of living
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Working hours
Great
Good
Ok
Bad

Japan observes Japan Standard Time (JST), which is 9 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). However, the time difference reduces to 8 hours during the summer months as Japan does not observe daylight saving time.This large gap in time zones has advantages and disadvantages, but planning a trip during the summer would reduce the likelihood of having to work past midnight to maintain alignment with European schedules.

The area surrounding Dotonbori becomes alive at night, with numerous brightly lit streets home to countless restaurants and bars for every taste to explore.
The area surrounding Dotonbori becomes alive at night, with numerous brightly lit streets home to countless restaurants and bars for every taste to explore.
The panoramic views from the 27th floor are what set the Namba SkyO WeWork apart from the other two sites in the city.
The panoramic views from the 27th floor are what set the Namba SkyO WeWork apart from the other two sites in the city.
Bento boxes appeared particularly popular in Osaka. During lunchtimes, local vendors sell boxes for hungry office workers to take back. This Fried Chicken box cost only 500 Yen (£2.50).
Bento boxes appeared particularly popular in Osaka. During lunchtimes, local vendors sell boxes for hungry office workers to take back. This Fried Chicken box cost only 500 Yen (£2.50).

Where to stay

Even though Osaka is a huge city, there are only a couple of core areas where you'd want to stay, at least on an initial visit.

The metro is efficient and inexpensive, so anywhere within a few stops of these areas would be ideal.

Would avoid
Recommended
Namba & Dotonbori
Busy and hectic commercial centre, perfect for exploring numerous restaurants and bars. If you're only in the city for a couple of nights, this would be your best bet.
Would avoid
Recommended
Umeda
Commercial centre with a bit more of a working, corporate feel compared to Namba, but with the same great choice of shopping, dining, and bars.
Would avoid
Recommended
Shinmachi
I found some of the best food spots in this area just to the east of Namba. It's a little calmer with more of a neighbourhood feel. Would be somewhere i would prioritise if returning.
Would avoid
Recommended
Shin-Osaka Station
The Shinkansen station is a little bit out of the core city centre. I would suggest staying further south as the station is easily reachable by metro.

Where to work

WeWork - Namba SkyO
Top Choice
☕️ Good Coffee
📍 Top Location
🥗 On Site Cafe
🧍Community Focused
⭐️ Quality Fit Out
🌳 Outdoor Space

Of the three WeWork sites across the city, this is the one which I'd suggest setting up base in. Set on the 27th floor of the SkyO building, the office provides panoramic north-looking views over the city and proves an inspiring place to work from.

You don't need to acquire a pass from the internal building security and can get a direct lift up from the office floor lobby on the 10th floor. The office is open until 20:00, however, you can get away with working in there up until 21:00 when you'll be mainly mixing with Japanese residents making the most of the free beer.

There are plenty of options for food and drink in the SkyO building itself and the surrounding area. Namba is a lively hub and a great place to explore after you've finished up at work.

Other options in Osaka

WeWork Midosuji Frontier - This is another solid option and also open until 20:00. Preference would only go to Namba due to the views, as this one is spread over the first two floors of this office building.

WeWork LINKS UMEDA - One large open-plan floor based within a large shopping centre in the Umeda area. Shuts at 18:00, so not the best option if you are working later into the evening.

Remote work visa

No remote work visa
Remote work visa available
Remote work visa coming soon
If staying for a prolonged period, you may want to consider a dedicated visa for this destination.
This country is actively working on a visa support for remote workers.
Check your government website for details of how to obtain a tourist visa.

Japan has introduced a new digital nomad visa under its specified visa category, allowing remote workers to stay in Japan for up to 6 months.

Requirements include having an annual income over 10 million yen (around $65,000 USD), private health insurance, and being from an eligible country like the US, UK, EU, Australia, Singapore or South Korea.

Visa holders are not considered residents, cannot extend their stay beyond 6 months, cannot open bank accounts or access national healthcare system in Japan.

View full details
To the best of my knowledge this information was correct as of 27th April 2024. If you notice something has changed drop me a message and I'll update it!

Citizen Remote is a great source of up to date knowledge for everything to do with remote work visas.

Safety

  • As far as large cities go, an incredibly safe place.I walked around at all hours of the day and at all times it felt extremely secure with nothing of concern. Like Tokyo, worth exercising some caution if anyone is inviting you to drink anywhere.

Off-work

Visit Osaka Castle

Constructed in the late 16th century, the castle features towering stone walls and a renowned main tower with intricate wooden architecture and green tiled roof. It played a key role in Japan's unification under the Tokugawa shogunate.

The moat and surrounding park make for a popular running route over the weekends.

Learn more
Visit Universal Studios Japan

While I didn't visit on this trip, Universal Studios Japan is a major attraction in Osaka - the country's second-largest amusement park. It features a wide array of rides and attractions based on popular movies and TV shows produced by Universal Pictures.

Visit Osaka Castle

Constructed in the late 16th century, the castle features towering stone walls and a renowned main tower with intricate wooden architecture and green tiled roof. It played a key role in Japan's unification under the Tokugawa shogunate.

The moat and surrounding park make for a popular running route over the weekends.

Visit Universal Studios Japan

While I didn't visit on this trip, Universal Studios Japan is a major attraction in Osaka - the country's second-largest amusement park. It features a wide array of rides and attractions based on popular movies and TV shows produced by Universal Pictures.

Duration & season

Days in May were warm, bordering on hot during the daytime, with one day completely written off due to wet weather. Higher summer temperatures would have been unappealing with the hectic nature of the city and no beach access.

One week was an ideal duration to pass through for an intense week of exploring. I would happily return or recommend a full month if the opportunity were to present itself.

Food & drink

Utsubo Park
·
Run
This isn't a bad place for a run if staying close to Namba. About a 1km loop if you go around the perimiter of the park,
Yodo River Run
·
Run
The north side of the river bank is an ideal place for a long uninterrupted run with well marked paths following it inland. I would avoid the southern area currently due to a large engineering project.

People

Osaka attracts 12 million visitors a year, and there was a noticeable increase in tourists compared to my preceding visits to Fukuoka and Hiroshima.

At each of the WeWorks I visited, there was a marginal increase in the number of foreigners, but it was far from being a remote hub.

Exercise

Utsubo Park
This isn't a bad place for a run if staying close to Namba. About a 1km loop if you go around the perimiter of the park,
keyboard_arrow_down
Yodo River Run
The north side of the river bank is an ideal place for a long uninterrupted run with well marked paths following it inland. I would avoid the southern area currently due to a large engineering project.
keyboard_arrow_down
Utsubo Park
This isn't a bad place for a run if staying close to Namba. About a 1km loop if you go around the perimiter of the park,
Yodo River Run
The north side of the river bank is an ideal place for a long uninterrupted run with well marked paths following it inland. I would avoid the southern area currently due to a large engineering project.

Verdict

Positives
  • An exciting and stimulating place to be.Osaka felt like it had a certain je ne sais quoi which makes simply walking around a city a satisfying experience. Perhaps it's the culmination of thousands of visitors arriving and departing through the city every day, but it has an infectious, energetic energy which was noticeably absent from both Fukuoka and Hiroshima.
  • Highly effective public transport.The combination of the metro, local rail, and the Shinkansen makes getting into and around what is an enormous metropolitan area a breeze.
  • Very international.Whilst the overwhelming majority of foreigners you will meet will be those on holiday, it's a great place to meet people from around the world.
  • An excellent selection of food.Osaka felt exceptionally well-served with numerous standing bars, izakayas, and kappo restaurants.
  • You don't have to travel as far for hiking and nature as from Tokyo.If you want to escape the city, the metropolitan area is smaller, making hiking in nearby hills more achievable.
Negatives
  • Hectic.From my experiences and from other Japanese people I spoke to, Osaka is frequently regarded as being as busy as Tokyo, if not exceeding it in terms of intensity. You're unlikely to emerge feeling refreshed from a stint staying in the city centre.
  • Highly concentrated hubs of activity.Outside of the areas surrounding Namba and Umeda, none of the other areas I passed through made a significant impression or warranted further exploration.
Tips
  • Kyoto is easily achievable as a day trip.Only 30 minutes on the train, tickets cost 500 Yen (£2.50) for a single journey. Whilst it's a beautiful place, one day in Kyoto was sufficient for myself in what felt like a particularly saturated area of tourism in the country.
  • There are two airports serving the city.Itami serves domestic flights and Kansai International. It's about an hour's drive between them if attempting to connect flights.
  • Osaka and Shin-Osaka are separate train stations.Shin-Osaka serves the Shinkansen train services, whilst both have JR lines running through them. Worth clarifying if ever in doubt.
Planning a trip?
I loved everything about this trip to Japan. I've put together some thoughts on my entire stay in the country, which may come in handy if you are planning a visit soon.
Only a 10-minute train journey from Namba, it's worth a trip down to Sumiyoshi Taisha, an impressive Shinto shrine and popular local destination for prayer.
The streets south of Shinsaibashi metro station are ideal places for shopping, with numerous vintage clothing outlets and independent fashion labels.
The wooden veneered cars of the metro service give some cars a nostalgic feel, far removed from the hi-tech sophistication Japan is renowned for.
If there's any data missing that you would like to see in these articles please leave some feedback and I'll aim to add it in.