Popular Areas for Foreign Residents in Osaka City
Town & Local Area Info
In recent years, the number of foreigners living in Osaka City has been increasing. As of 31 December 2020, that number stands at around 145,000 residents. While Japan has been virtually closed to foreign tourists since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of foreign residents in the country has not changed much, and is expected to gradually increase in the future.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the foreign resident population in Osaka City, their nationalities, and some background information about foreigners living in Osaka.
Foreign Resident Population in Osaka City
As of 31 December 2020, the number of foreigners living in each ward of Osaka City is as follows:
|Rank||Ward||Foreign Resident Population|
As a side note, the top five Osaka City Wards in terms of number of households is as follows:
Nationalities of Foreigners in Osaka Prefecture
As of 31 December 2020, among the roughly 253,000 foreign residents in Osaka Prefecture, Koreans accounts for 39%, while Chinese and Taiwanese nationals account for 29%, though these numbers are decreasing gradually.
On the other hand, the number of Vietnamese has been increasing, and they currently account for 15% of the foreign resident population. This is followed by Filipinos (4%), Nepalese (2%), Indonesians (2%), Americans (1%), Brazilians (1%), Thai (1%), and Burmese (0.6%).
Why there are many foreigners living in Osaka
Many foreign residents in Japan tend to live in areas where many of their compatriots live or where they can easily obtain food and products from their home countries. In Ikuno Ward, which has the most number of foreign residents in Osaka City, there is a large Korea Town in a shopping street with around 120 different shops. This Korea Town in the Tsuruhashi district of Ikuno is an enclave where many Korean nationals reside.
Many Koreans came to live in Osaka during the Taisho Period in the early 20th century. At the time, Osaka was rapidly urbanizing, and many local companies were in need of laborers. Many of these laborers came from Jeju Island and the Korean peninsula. In 1922, more Koreans came after a regular ferry service was established between Jeju Island and Osaka. The great drought in 1929 also spurred Korean migration to Osaka. The Korean settlers congregated in the Tsuruhashi district and set up a makeshift market.
After the end of World War II, many Korean settlers returned to the peninsula, but another influx of Koreans arrived in Osaka from Jeju Island to escape the suppression of the Jeju Uprising in the late 1940s.
The Korea Town in Tsuruhashi prospered during Japan’s period of rapid economic growth. It became famous as a commercial district that sells food, crafts, and other products from the Korean peninsula. Many other Koreans in the Kansai district outside Osaka decided to move to Tsuruhashi. Since then, Tsuruhashi has become one of Japan’s largest Korea Towns, alongside Shin-Okubo in Tokyo.
There are also other ethnic enclaves in Osaka besides the Tsuruhashi Korea Town. In the Kawaguchi district of Nishi-ku, a foreign settlement was established after Japan opened its borders during the Meiji Period. Many Chinese immigrants came to the settlement, starting their own businesses.
In the business district of Sakaisuji-Hommachi, there is a small community of Indian nationals who came to Osaka to work in the city’s traditional textile and garment industry.
Increasing Foreign Tourists in Osaka
Before the COVID-19 pandemic brought a halt to international tourism, the number of foreign tourists to Osaka was increasing rapidly. In the Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index, Osaka City boasted the highest growth rate in the world for two years straight from 2016 to 2017.
Nishinari-ku, home to the second highest number of foreign residents in Osaka City, has been described as a slum for many decades. But in recent years, it has attracted attention from foreign tourists as the “Harlem of Japan”. The graffiti-ridden storefronts were repainted with designs by local street artists, giving it an appeal similar to New York City’s Harlem district without the fear of gun violence. The cheap accommodations in the area also made it attractive to backpackers.
In this article, we examined the foreign resident population in Osaka City, and some background information about why many foreigners live in Osaka.
While specific reasons can vary from person to person, many foreigners in Japan choose to live in a specific area because of certain characteristics. For example, there may be a community of their compatriots in the area, there may be many shops that sell food and products from their home countries, or the municipality has an extensive support system for foreign residents. While some probably choose an area based on its accessibility to their workplace, others choose based on feedback from their network of compatriots. When many people of a certain nationality live in a specific area, shops that specifically aim to serve that nationality tend to pop up, making it even more attractive for newcomers from that country.
If you are a foreigner looking for a place to live in Osaka, it’s a good idea to check if there are any areas where many of your compatriots are already residing.