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Life in Osaka

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Osaka Namba crab

History

Osaka’s roots run deep in Japan’s history. In early years, Osaka grew as a city thanks to its westward facing port, which placed it within close proximity to trading partners China and Korea. Osaka, traditionally called Naniwa, has a brief history of being the capital of Japan. The 16th century was a period in Japanese history known as the “Warring States” period. A monk by the name of Rennyo built the Ishiyama Honganji Temple, which hosted a “temple town” within the grounds. The temple town was home to many traders across the region. The temple was constructed with moats and fences as a primary defense, giving it an appearance of a fortress. 

Japanese warrior hideyoshiOda Nobunaga, a military commander during the era, believed that taking the temple would grant him control of the country. For ten years he sieged the temple, with the idea that controlling the temple would grant him control of Japan. Eventually he captured and burned it down. Nobunaga’s successor, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, was credited with laying the foundations of modern-day Osaka. Over the ruins of the Ishiyama Honganji Temple, he constructed the Osaka Castle. Additionally, he developed canals, streets and more infrastructure to turn Osaka into a proper capital. He encouraged traders from across Japan to move into the area. He pushed for stronger foreign trade. Hideyoshi’s reforms caused many people to regard him as a great unifier of Japan.

Over the next two centuries, Osaka developed into a major Japanese city, and served as an incubator for Japanese culture and cultivated a vibrant art scene. Osaka, along with the rest of Japan, rapidly grew during the Meiji period in the 19th century. The country transformed into an isolated, pre-industrial, feudal country into a world power.

During World War II, Osaka suffered massive destruction at the hands of US bombing raids. Throughout the Pacific theater of the war, the US crept towards the Japanese homeland, capturing Japanese-held islands along the way. Eventually, US bombers were able to reliably reach Japan, and Osaka fell victim to several air raids. Most of the city was demolished by the time Japan surrendered.

Work in Osaka

Osaka, long considered Japan’s “second city”, has a very strong and competitive economy. While manufacturing makes up a large portion of Osaka’s economy, it possesses a healthy services industry. Home to the second largest securities exchange in Japan, financial services are well-represented in the city. The robust economy also hosts many tech companies in fields such as biotechnology, new materials, and IT. Unique portions of the entertainment industry, sports and game content, are also prominent positions. Finding a suitable internship should be no problem in Osaka’s diverse economy!

What to expect

Climate

Being located on the southern portion of Japan’s main “Honshu” island, Osaka experiences a tropical-like climate.

  • Summers are hot & humid. Temperatures can climb to an average of 33 degrees in July and August.
  • Osaka has two rainy seasons, known as “tsuyu”.
  • The first occurs in early summer, from early June to late July.
  • The second occurs in September and early October. Tropical weather storms, including typhoons, roll in from the south.

Transport

Osaka is a massive city with excellent public transportation. The extensive metro lines are the most common form of public transportation, but an organized bus system is available for those who prefer traditional methods.

Metro

Japan osaka metro

Osaka’s subway system is broken into nine lines. However, you can get to most areas in the city using just two lines. The metro is, by far, the best way to get around the city.

  • The Midosuji line runs north-south through the city. It connects most of the urban hubs together.
  • The Chuo line runs east-west through the city. It connects the Osaka bay area to the Osaka castle area. 

Both rails form a cross and intersect at the Honmachi station, making it an easy transfer between these two important lines. 

Additionally, the JR, the main train network throughout Japan, runs a loop around the city. Osaka station serves as the largest hub for the JR in Osaka. The area around Osaka station is known as “Station City” because of the bustling malls, restaurants, and other entertainment amenities. Most of the JR stations connect to the privately-owned metro lines, meaning transfer between JR and other lines is relatively easy. 

The metro runs from 5am until 12midnight.

Bus

Osaka’s busses aren’t terribly difficult to use, are well organized, but might not be as convenient as the metro system. Still, it’s worth checking out, especially if your destination is nearby. You’ll board the bus from the front, and exit from the rear. Within the city limits, all busses charge a flat fee of ¥210 (about $1.8/€1.6).If you don’t have exact change, there will be a machine under the payment slot that can break down larger notes. When you need to get off, you simply need to push the button near your seat, and the driver will stop to let you off at the next station.

Taxi

When the metro or a bus won’t get you to where you are going, taxis are always available. However, a taxi can be quite expensive when compared to other large cities. Most of the time, the ride will cost ¥660 (about $6/€5.30) for the first 2km and then an additional ¥80 for every 300 meters. As a general rule, it will cost ¥2000 to cross the city in a taxi. The fare will also rise when the driver is stuck in traffic.Taxis are safe and the drivers are honest. Getting into the “fake taxis” is not a problem in Osaka.

Cuisine

Japan food pancake

Okonomiyaki

Translating to “whatever you like, cooked”, Okonomiyaki originated in post-war Japan when food was scarce and ingredients were just whatever was on hand. This dish originated in the Kansai region (Osaka) and today you can find many Okonomiyaki restaurants throughout the city. Okonomiyaki is a savory pancake make from flour, eggs, and cabbage which is stuffed with all kinds of ingredients: pork, cheese, meat, shrimp, etc. On the top is a brown sauce, mayonnaise with scattered dry bonito shavings. This versatile dish can be filled with basically any ingredient, hence its name.

Fugu

Often associated with Osaka’s Kansai region, Fugu is blowfish, a special delicacy. It’s (in)famous for being highly poisonous. Some of the fish’s organs contain tetrodotoxin, a poison that is a thousand times deadlier to humans than cyanide. Occasionally, you will hear about someone dying from improper preparation of the dish. However, this only happens from people attempting to prepare it from home and never is a result from eating it at restaurants. The Japanese government requires rigorous training if a chef wants to be able to prepare the dish. It will usually take two or three years to become a qualified preparer of Fugu. Fugu is served in paper-thin slices and usually eaten raw but can be baked into tempura, added to stew, or deep fried.

japan food noodles

Kitsune Udon

Kitsune Udon is a noodle dish, that is served differently depending on your location in the country. In Osaka, Kitsune Kitsune Udon is famous for the broth it creates. Thick udon noodles are topped with abura-age, a fried piece of tofu. The abura-age will have been simmered in a sweet soy sauce. A broth mixed with usukuchi soy sauce (a light color soy sauce) is added to the bowl and gives it the famous Kansai flavor.

Sightseeing

japan osaka castleOsaka Castle

The most iconic landmark in Osaka, the Osaka Castle was first constructed by the militaristic leader Toyotomi Hideyoshi. The castle has been destroyed and rebuilt several times throughout its history, most recently reconstructed in 1931. The main tower of the castle stands 42 meters tall, five-stories, and offers an excellent view of Osaka from above.

Shitenno-ji Temple

Claiming to be Japan’s first Buddhist temple, Shitenno-ji is Osaka’s best-known temple. This lovely temple hosts a five-story pagoda, a golden pavilion filled with paintings and sculptures, a lecture hall, and a walkway leading to the temple’s other gates.

osaka running man

Namba

Namba is one Osaka’s two main city centers. Filled with restaurants, malls, stores, bars, nightclubs and other venues, it is undeniably the city’s most famous entertainment district. When walking in the area at night, you’ll be blinded by the district’s many neon signs. Some of the most famous images of Osaka originate from Namba, which often show the running “Glico man” and the Kani Doraku mechanized moving crab.

Life in Osaka

Osaka is a wonderful city, combinding a rich heritage with modern conveniences. Osaka's teeming economy means finding your perfect internship will be very easy, no matter the industry. Immerse yourself in the unique culture of Japan, and let Zentern match you up with a guaranteed internship placement of your choosing! Overseas work experience is incredibly valuable, and proving to employers that you're capable of handling yourself in an unfamiliar work environment will help jumpstart your career. With the right networking skills, perhaps you'll even find yourself with full-time job offers!

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