Working in Osaka

Updated 2022-12-23 08:23

Do you dream of working in Japan? Why not opt for Osaka? The country's third-largest city is known for its dynamism and relaxed lifestyle. An excellent alternative to sprawling Tokyo, Osaka is ideally located in the center of Japan, less than 3 hours away from the capital, and closer to Kyoto, Nara and Kobe. Here is a practical guide to optimize your search and find the job of your dreams.

Mapping Osaka

The third most populated city in Japan is located in the Kansai region, in the center of Japan. Along with its neighbors Kyoto, Nara and Kobe, it attracts a flow of tourists comparable to that of Tokyo. Kansai is another major Japanese tourist destination. The region is, in fact, a concentration of 6 prefectures: Osaka (whose capital is named after), Kyoto, Hyogo, Shiga and Wakayama. Kansai is also an economic powerhouse, worth 775 billion dollars in 2021, or nearly 15% of the country's wealth. Osaka prefecture generates 362 billion dollars, to which the city contributes 181 billion dollars.

Osaka's assets

It is often said that Osaka is a great place to live in. The city and its prefecture are said to be quieter and less official than Tokyo. Like any capital city, Tokyo is considered too hectic, too rigid, and too big. In comparison, the city of Osaka can be crossed on foot in a little more than 2 hours (which is far from the case of Tokyo), starting from Osaka station (Umeda district, in the north), to Namba, in the south. Both the city and region are well connected.

Many Japanese and foreign workers choose to live in Osaka and to work in nearby cities like Nara, Kyoto, and Kobe. Tokyo is not very far either, only two and a half hours away by Shinkansen, the Japanese express train. Open to the world, Osaka is a perfect location to find a job in Japan.

Osaka is also the city of art and gastronomy. Each district has its own identity (like in Tokyo). To the North, you can find Umeda, the business district, and in the south, in Namba, the party and entertainment district, Tennoji.

The job market in Osaka

Many large companies choose to set up businesses in Osaka to take advantage of its rail and port network. Hanshin Port (Kobe-Osaka International Port Corporation) is the largest port in Japan for both exports and imports. Its ships are among the largest in the country and can carry thousands of tons of cargo. In 2018, a report by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport revealed that Hanshin Port exported just over 115,000 thousand tons of goods and imported nearly 70,000. The port of Tokyo is far behind, with just 49,826 thousand tons of goods exported and 47,718 thousand tons imported. The port sector is indeed a major provider of employment in the region.

Osaka is, in fact, on par with Tokyo when it comes to exports. It accounted for 21% of the country's total exports in 2019, 1% less than the capital. Tokyo imports more than 33% of the country's total, compared with only 19% for Osaka.

In addition to the port sector, the manufacturing and service industries are also well represented. Industry accounts for nearly 17% of jobs in Osaka. On the service side, trade is on par with industry, reaching nearly 17%. Next comes the real estate sector with 11%. Jobs in the scientific and technological sectors represent 8.7% of the workforce, while health represents 8% and transport 5.6%. IT, communication, finance, education and public services close the list, each representing between 2 and 4% of the market.

The most prominent fields for foreign professionals in Osaka

Becoming a language teacher in Osaka

The small share of communication and teaching professions does not mean that there is no demand. On the contrary, these activities are constantly recruiting. Foreigners will find job offers on Internet sites specializing in international recruitment. Among the most popular job offers, language teacher comes first. Teaching English and/or French is a good opportunity for foreigners who wish to work in Japan with a degree and experience in the field.

However, having a teacher's work visa means that you will have to work in this field only. If you are not aiming for this type of job, it is better to look for one in the field you studied. Contrary to popular belief, being a language teacher is not the "gateway" to a work visa in Japan. The job is very demanding and requires specific qualifications, especially if you want to work in a Japanese or in an international school. In the Land of The Rising Sun, teaching a language is not a side job.

Finding teaching jobs in Osaka

Many websites have job offers for candidates wishing to become language teachers in Japan. To find such offers, you can visit websites such as Ohayo sensei, Jobs in Japan, Learn 4 Good, Go abroad, and Glassdoor. You will find more job offers for private tutors, which are often less well-paid than school teachers. It is worth noting that the teacher work visa is intended for positions that can be "sponsored" by recognized institutions.

Ideally, you should leave with a letter of recommendation from your previous school. Use your network to join the Lycée Français de Tokyo, the American Lycée, or Japanese schools. Feel free to ask your embassy for more information. You can also apply directly to language schools or international schools.

It is still possible to obtain a teacher's work visa as a private tutor. You must work for a language school and not be self-employed. Internet platforms that put you in touch with students will not sponsor your work visa. Keep in mind that selection criteria have been upgraded over the past few years, while salaries haven't, especially for private tutors in language schools. Some schools emphasize the professionalism of their employees to reassure Japanese clients. As such, you will be required to have impeccable English and French, possibly backed up by university degrees and/or solid experience.

Working in tourism

Not surprisingly, tourism is the other sector where expatriates are sought after. Job offers are numerous, and so are career opportunities as a guide, interpreter, translator, commercial, entertainment professional, salesman, and so on. Expats can find jobs rather easily during the high tourist season in spring and summer. The job search is even easier if they can prove that they speak Japanese, English and/or French. But in any case, speaking Japanese remains a must for a successful move to Japan. As tourism is necessary, mastering another language, or even several other languages, allows you to stand out from the crowd and access better job offers.

To find a job in the tourism industry in Japan, check out GaijinPot jobs (a major website for job offers in Japan), Daijob,, Yolo Japan, CareerCross, etc.

Other prominent sectors in Osaka

As in other major Japanese cities, the service sector is one of the main drivers of the Osaka job market. Among the most prolific recruiters are banking and finance, commerce, engineering, personal services, and sales, amongst others. Depending on your profile and what you are looking for, you will find more offers in different seasons. During the tourist season, Osaka and all the tourist areas are full of job offers tailored for foreigners. Japan is slowly opening up again.

Major companies in Osaka

Osaka is also home to large companies that support the economic market. The giant Panasonic (electronic equipment) has its headquarters in Osaka prefecture. Sharp and Keyence, also in the electronics industry, have their headquarters in Osaka, along with the likes of Nippon Life Insurance, Sumimoto Life Insurance, Takeda Pharmaceutical, Kansai Electric Power, etc. These names may be unknown to the general public, but are known to foreign job seekers who want to work in these sectors. Another major company is Asahi Kasei, which specializes in manufacturing scientific and chemical equipment. Suntory is a heavyweight in the food industry, while Itochu Corp focuses on trade. Daiwa is a giant in the construction and equipment industry.

Several companies, like Panasonic, Daiwa, Nippon Life Insurance, Sumimoto Life Insurance, or Kansai Electric Power, are listed in the Fortune global ranking.

These large companies often have international branches, such as Asahi Kasei Europe, Daiwa house Europe, Panasonic France, and Panasonic North America. Foreigners who are lucky enough to be working in a branch of a Japanese company can negotiate an intracompany transfer to Japan.

Where to work in Japan: Tokyo or Osaka?

When it comes to job hunting in Japan, Tokyo is the most recommended place. The capital is seen as a mandatory gateway, if not a reassuring one. Tokyo is more likely to be the place to find a job. As the capital city of Japan, the offers are numerous and diverse. Salaries are potentially higher as well. You may have more chances to find a job that does not require a high level of Japanese (true for small jobs, less true for jobs that require higher skills). Whether you are on a Working Holiday Visa in Japan, a student visa, or a work visa, Tokyo appears to offer the best conditions to start your new life in Japan.

But Tokyo is not Japan, and neither is any other city, for that matter. It is quite possible to find a job in Japan outside of Tokyo. Besides, the competition in the capital is tough, and Osaka and its region are excellent alternatives. As mentioned before, major companies are present in many different ways.

Some of them are even extending further. In the south, the island of Kyushu and its prefecture Fukuoka drain the city's economy. Other expatriates go even further and turn to more isolated regions, medium or small cities, where foreigners are still few. Finding a job in these areas requires, of course, an excellent level of Japanese. It is impossible to rely only on English.

How to find a job in Osaka?


There is nothing like a university degree to stand out as a potential candidate in Osaka. Whether you are applying for a position in a language school, a bank, a general business, or an IT company, your level of education will weigh significantly. The Japanese CV is very codified and does not leave room for personalization. It is a very impersonal form to fill out, where exceptionally, a passport-size photo is mandatory, even for a small job. So make sure to highlight your diplomas, especially if they come from an internationally recognized institution.

Japanese language skills

Expats have mixed opinions on this issue. Some have indeed found a job without speaking Japanese, while others found it hard. Wouldn't it be better to learn the language, if only out of respect for the country? Certainly! But we understand that speaking Japanese is more complicated than speaking English or Spanish. Thankfully, everything, including the Japanese language, can be learned, especially when one knows how heavy the language barrier can weigh for those who don't know Japanese.

Learn how to apply for a job

Foreign Chambers of Commerce and Industry and other international organizations provide support and organize various events related to employment in Japan. Consider associations, social media and other online resources as well. Attending relevant events and meeting people there will help you build your professional and social networks.

Take the time to understand how the Japanese apply for jobs. In Japan, they usually go from "student" to "employee" status without transition. During their final year at university, students spend most of their time looking for a job. Universities prepare them for this. So you should get ready too if you're an international student in Japan.

Learn how to express yourself using keigo (strong language), how to introduce yourself, and how to speak in a calm and fluid manner.

Tips for a successful move to Osaka

Ideally, start your stay with some sightseeing. You have just arrived in Osaka and will be here for a long time (1 year if you have come on a temporary work visa, more if you have a student visa or a work visa). There is nothing better than a brief vacation to prepare for your new life.

Revise your kanji regularly. Practice the Japanese language as much as possible: when you go shopping and ask for information. This is the best way to get used to the language.

Dare to ask for help when things are not going well. Give yourself time and believe in yourself.

Useful links:

Robert Walters Japan

Yolo Japan

Navi deau (in Japanese)

Doda (in Japanese)

Hataraku jobs (in Japanese)

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.