Osaka consists of 24 wards, or “Ku,” which are as varied as the people who live in them. Some are particularly popular with expats due to their available services and conveniences, such as easy access to international schools or common expat companies. The majority of people living in city areas in Japan use the closest station’s name to refer to their neighborhood. For example, those with an address in Chuo-ku in Osaka would say that they lived in Namba or Shinsaibashi, the closest station to their home. Having trouble working out which area is best suited to the type of lifestyle you would like to lead in Japan? See our guide for information on popular expat areas to live in Osaka.
Umeda and Osaka Station Area
Umeda is the business district of Osaka and has some tall buildings that are architecturally interesting. Yet despite all the concrete, the area around Umeda is remarkably pedestrian-friendly. Housing is primarily high-rise, and this is an urban environment more suitable for singles or couples who don’t have children. High-end serviced apartments are available in the Grand Front Osaka, which also houses the InterContinental hotel on the north side of Osaka Station.
Shopping is abundant in the newly renovated JR Osaka Station, which is full of restaurants, shops, department stores, movie theaters, and gardens on top of the north and south gate buildings.
This metropolitan area of Osaka sits slightly to the West of Shinsaibashi and contains some neighborhoods that have become quite hip places to live. Minami-Semba, Horie, and the Utsubo Park area are all cosmopolitan yet maintain a low-rise neighborhood feel. This is the city life, and everything is accessible by subway. Those with young children might find it a bit of a hassle as getting around by car can be a nuisance and school options are better elsewhere.
Chuo-ku stretches from the Osaka Castle Area in the North to the Namba area in the South and encompasses Shinsaibashi, one of the city’s major nightlife districts. This area is busy and eclectic, offering almost limitless dining options with every cuisine imaginable. However, the area can get a bit gritty in places (imagine a cross between L.A. and New York), and things tend to go late in this part of town – very late.
Located in the very center of Osaka, Namba is the entertainment and shopping hub of the city. It is a bustling area with a mixture of commercial and residential buildings, which tend to be mostly low-rise and accessible. Namba has a stimulating urban vibe with eclectic shops, bars, restaurants, and the neon lights of a thriving nightlife. Namba can be a fun place to live. Like many downtown Osaka areas, the lack of greenery may put some people off, and the accommodation is at city prices, and apartment sizes are small.
Roughly ten minutes by train away from Namba at the southern end of Osaka city, Tennoji is a vibrant and bustling cityscape packed with department stores and shopping complexes. The area boasts a park, an art museum, a rather cramped zoo, and the historic Shitenno-Ji Temple. The tallest building in Japan, the Abeno Harukas, is located here and contains the Marriott Hotel. The station area has Kintetsu, a high-end department store, and the Hoop shopping complex, which features GAP, Muji, and LOFT, a popular Japanese stationery and household-goods store.
If you are looking to live in a more residential area, then you might consider one of the three main bedroom communities situated in the hills to the north of Osaka. Senri, Suita, and Minoh are easy commutes into town and offer more greenery and space for families to live.
Senri is about 25 minutes from Umeda Station via rail. Here you can find single-family dwellings and apartments set in a greener, quieter environment.
This small city was the site of the 1970 World EXPO, and The J-League soccer club Gamba Osaka plays at the EXPO Stadium, located on the site of the former World’s Fair. The Expo City in Suita is one of Japan’s largest multi-use complexes, featuring entertainment facilities and a large shopping mall.
Sometimes spelled as Minoh, Minoo is a relatively quiet part of Osaka Prefecture and the location of the highly regarded Osaka International School. It is also known for Meiji no Mori, one of Japan’s oldest national parks, which houses a large population of wild monkeys and has a picturesque waterfall.
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