Osaka: Japan’s Top Destination for Digital Nomads – WanderLawyer

Why Osaka is the Perfect City for Digital Nomads in 2024
Japan Restaurants And Bars Illuminated At Night In Alleyways Osaka

If you’re a digital nomad looking for the best place to work and explore, Osaka, Japan, should be at the top of your list. While Tokyo gets a lot of attention for its high-tech scene, we found that Osaka offers a unique mix of affordability, culture, and convenience that’s hard to beat. Here’s why we believe Osaka is the ultimate destination for digital nomads visiting Japan in 2024.

High-Speed Internet

For digital nomads and traveling attorneys, staying connected is essential to maintaining productivity and client communication on the go. Whether you’re drafting briefs or closing deals, reliable Wi-Fi is a non-negotiable part of your travel toolkit. Fortunately, Osaka offers a range of options to ensure you stay connected without breaking the bank.

The most reliable way to secure free Wi-Fi is by staying in a Wi-Fi-enabled hostel or hotel. Surprisingly, budget accommodations like Hana Hostel or J Hoppers often provide better connectivity than more expensive options. Business hotels like Dormy Inn and Toyoko Inn also offer excellent Wi-Fi access in guest rooms and public areas without the need for passwords. High-end hotels such as Hotel Monterey and Fraser Residences provide comprehensive Wi-Fi services, while Sheraton Osaka limits access to the reception area for registered guests.

For on-the-go Wi-Fi, a bit of preparation is necessary, as many providers require an advance email to receive a password. Osaka City Tourism and West Japan Railway Company offer free Wi-Fi at key locations like train stations, Kansai International Airport, and various museums. Osaka Free Wi-Fi offers one-hour sessions without limits, while the Lite version allows 30-minute sessions up to eight times a day. JR West Free Wi-Fi is available at major railway stations and requires a guest code obtained via email. For reliable coverage throughout Osaka, consider renting a pocket Wi-Fi from Wifi.com, offering unlimited access for less than 1000 yen a day. Additionally, ubiquitous spots like Starbucks also provide Wi-Fi, though their coverage can be inconsistent.

More Affordable Than Tokyo

Tokyo’s cost of living can be prohibitive, especially for those planning a long-term stay. In contrast, Osaka is significantly more affordable. Renting a one-bedroom apartment in the city center can be up to 30% cheaper than in Tokyo. Daily expenses, like food, also come at a lower price point without compromising on quality. Streets like Dotonbori are filled with affordable and delicious street food options, making it easy to eat well on a budget.

When we visited Osaka, we found literally thousands of inexpensive ramen restaurants, where meals ranged from 1,200-2,000 yen (7-12 USD). Cost of grocieres is also significantly less than Tokyo, and its very possible to eat with a budget of only a few hundred dollars a month

Excellent Public Transportation

Getting around Osaka is a breeze, thanks to its efficient and comprehensive public transportation system. The trains and subways are less crowded compared to Tokyo, making your commute more comfortable. For those staying longer, renting a bike is an economical and convenient way to explore the city. Biking not only saves money but also allows you to see Osaka from a different perspective.

Safe and Accessible

Safety and cleanliness are top priorities in Osaka. Public spaces are well-maintained, and you’ll find clean public restrooms everywhere. Additionally, modern buildings in Osaka are equipped with advanced earthquake-proofing technology, giving you peace of mind as you go about your day. The city’s commitment to cleanliness and safety ensures a pleasant living and working environment.

WanderLawyer Rating for Osaka

  • Accessibility: 4.5/5 stars
  • Delicious Food: 5/5 stars
  • Affordability: 4/5 stars
  • Work Remote Locations & Internet Access: 4/5 stars
  • Weather: 3/5 stars
  • Friendliness: 3/5 stars
  • Nightlife: 4/5 stars
  • Vibe: 4/5 stars

Overall Score: 4/5 Stars

Common Expenses in Osaka

If you’re planning to live alone as a digital nomad in Osaka, here’s a rough estimate of your monthly expenses:

  • Monthly accommodations for a studio apartment: $800-$1,000
  • Monthly transportation: $100-$150
  • Monthly food costs: $200-$300

Co-Working Options

Osaka is home to a plethora of coworking spaces that cater to digital nomads. These spaces offer modern facilities, high-speed internet, and a community of like-minded professionals. Some popular options include:

  • CUE Workspace
  • Osaka Innovation Hub
  • Osakan Space
  • Juso Coworking
  • Inseed
  • Common Room Nakatsu

Many of these coworking spaces also host regular workshops and networking events, providing ample opportunities to connect and collaborate with others.

Apartments in Osaka

For long-term stays, there are various apartment options available. Some recommended services include:

  • GaijinPot Apartments
  • AB Housing Osaka
  • Osaka Housing, Rooms, Apartments, Sublets for Rent, Buy, Sell

Hostels in Osaka

If you prefer more flexible and budget-friendly accommodations, consider staying in one of Osaka’s many hostels. Here are some top choices:

  • Pax Hostel
  • J-Hoppers Osaka
  • The Stay Osaka Shinsaibashi
  • Hostel Q
  • Backstage Osaka Hotel and Bar

We particularly recommend J-Hoppers Osaka for its convenient location, free Wi-Fi, workspace, and well-equipped communal kitchen.

Getting Around Osaka

Navigating Osaka is straightforward with multiple transportation options:

  • Trains and Subways: Eight subway lines, with two lines running through the heart of the city. Payment is easy with cards like Pasmo, Suica, and the Osaka Amazing Pass.
  • Tram: A historic and affordable way to see the city’s sights.
  • Buses: Tourist buses like UMEGLE offer unlimited rides for a day with the Enjoy Eco Card.
  • Taxis: Available 24/7 but more expensive.
  • Bicycles: Ideal for navigating the city’s flat roads and scenic routes along the Yodo River.

Unique Attractions in Osaka

Osaka is rich in unique attractions beyond the iconic Osaka Castle. Some must-see spots include:

  • Tempozan Ferris Wheel
  • TeamLab Botanical Garden
  • Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine
  • Koyasan Okunoin Night Tour
  • Neko no Jikan (Cat Cafe)

Day Trips from Osaka: Detailed Attractions

Osaka’s central location makes it an excellent base for exploring nearby attractions. Here are some of the best day trips you can take from Osaka, each offering unique experiences:

Kyoto

Why Visit: Known as the cultural capital of Japan, Kyoto is famous for its well-preserved temples, traditional wooden houses, and beautiful gardens.

Highlights:

  • Fushimi Inari Shrine: Famous for its thousands of red torii gates leading up Mount Inari.
  • Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion): A stunning Zen temple covered in gold leaf.
  • Arashiyama Bamboo Grove: A peaceful walk through towering bamboo stalks.
  • Gion District: A traditional area known for geishas and historic teahouses.

Nara

Why Visit: Nara is home to ancient temples and friendly, free-roaming deer that will bow for treats.

Highlights:

  • Todai-ji Temple: Houses the Great Buddha statue, one of the largest bronze statues in the world.
  • Nara Park: Over 1,200 wild deer roam freely, considered sacred and believed to be messengers of the gods.
  • Kasuga Taisha Shrine: Known for its hundreds of bronze and stone lanterns.
  • Kofuku-ji Temple: A significant temple with a five-story pagoda and National Treasure Museum.

Lake Biwa

Why Visit: Japan’s largest freshwater lake offers beautiful scenery and outdoor activities.

Highlights:

  • Omi-Maiko Beach: Popular for swimming and sunbathing with clear waters and white sands.
  • Hikone Castle: One of the few original castles in Japan with beautiful gardens and historical exhibits.
  • Lake Biwa Museum: Learn about the natural history and cultural significance of the lake.
  • Chikubu Island: A sacred island with historic shrines and temples accessible by ferry.

Kobe

Why Visit: Known for its cosmopolitan atmosphere, waterfront views, and delicious Kobe beef.

Highlights:

  • Kobe Harborland: A shopping and entertainment district along the waterfront.
  • Mount Rokko: Offers panoramic views of Kobe and Osaka Bay.
  • Kobe Beef: Enjoy the world-famous, tender, and flavorful beef at various high-end restaurants.
  • Kobe Nunobiki Herb Gardens: A scenic spot with beautiful flowers, herbs, and a ropeway offering great views.

Takeda Castle Ruins

Why Visit: Often called the “Machu Picchu of Japan,” this mountaintop castle offers stunning views and a sense of ancient history.

Highlights:

  • Ruins Exploration: Walk through the atmospheric ruins of Takeda Castle, situated high on a mountain ridge.
  • Sea of Clouds: On certain days, especially in autumn, a sea of clouds can be seen surrounding the ruins, creating a mystical view.
  • Panoramic Views: Enjoy breathtaking vistas of the surrounding valleys and mountains.

Arima Onsen

Why Visit: One of Japan’s oldest and most famous hot spring towns, perfect for relaxation and rejuvenation.

Highlights:

  • Hot Springs: Soak in the therapeutic waters of the “gold” (kin no yu) and “silver” (gin no yu) hot springs.
  • Arima Toys and Automata Museum: A charming museum showcasing vintage toys and mechanical dolls.
  • Traditional Streets: Wander through quaint streets lined with traditional shops and ryokan (Japanese inns).

Uji

Why Visit: Renowned for its high-quality green tea and historical sites, Uji offers a tranquil escape.

Highlights:

  • Byodo-in Temple: A UNESCO World Heritage Site with a beautiful Phoenix Hall depicted on the 10 yen coin.
  • Uji Tea: Visit tea houses and shops to taste and purchase some of Japan’s best green tea.
  • Uji River: A scenic river perfect for leisurely walks and boat rides.
  • Tale of Genji Museum: Dedicated to the world’s first novel, “The Tale of Genji,” written by Murasaki Shikibu.

Himeji

Why Visit: Home to Japan’s most magnificent and well-preserved castle, Himeji Castle.

Highlights:

  • Himeji Castle: Also known as the White Heron Castle, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a national treasure with its stunning architecture and vast grounds.
  • Koko-en Garden: A traditional Japanese garden located near Himeji Castle, perfect for a peaceful stroll.
  • Mount Shosha: Accessible by ropeway, offering temples and scenic hiking trails.
  • Himeji City Museum of Art: Features both Japanese and Western art in a beautiful building

Options for longer term stays: Japan’s Digital Nomad Visa

For digital nomads looking to stay in Japan for up to six months, Japan recently launched a new digital nomad visa specifically designed for remote workers looking to experience Japan while continuing their professional activities. This visa, which is open to citizens from 49 countries, requires applicants to demonstrate a substantial annual income of at least ¥10 million (~$68,300) and to secure private health insurance. The visa offers a unique opportunity for a six-month stay without the possibility for renewal or the option to rent long-term housing, aiming to attract global talent to invigorate the local economy through their presence and spending.

Verdict: Why Osaka is the Best Choice for Digital Nomads

We found Osaka a fantastic choice for digital nomads and WanderLawyers because the city offers fast internet, lower living costs, great public transportation, and lots of unique things to see and do. Osaka is also very easy to access given the plethora of international flights from Itami Airport and the Shinkansen Rail (bullet train), which offers a lightning-fast transportation method to Tokyo and Japan’s most popular cities and attractions. Overall, Osaka ranks high on our list of top digital nomad locations in Asia.

-WL

Authors

Anthony Shallat

Anthony Shallat

Anthony Shallat is a digital nomad attorney and WanderLawyer co-founder. Anthony believes travel unlocks potential and opens minds. He’s been wandering and lawyering since 2014.