One of Umeda’s best known landmarks, HEP FIVE is essentially a shopping mall that just happens to have a huge red Ferris wheel attached to its roof. HEP is an acronym for “Hankyu Entertainment Park,” and although the bulk of the building is devoted to clothing stores, there are also dining facilities and “amusement zones” on the upper floors. Let’s take a look at each of the facilities in turn.
HEP FIVE certainly creates an unusual first impression. Customers entering from the 1st floor main entrance find themselves inside a massive atrium with a giant sculpture of a red whale and its calf suspended above them. The sculpture was made by the musician and industrial designer Tatsuya Ishi.
Just inside the entry, two hostesses offer guidance to customers with both spoken Japanese and sign language. A series of staggered escalators ascend to the upper floors and you can view the whales and the floors below from each level.
From the 1st basement level to the 6th floor, HEP FIVE is filled with over 170 clothing stores and fashion boutiques which are mostly aimed at the younger generation and in particular at young ladies. However, menswear, ladieswear, children’s wear, bags, shoes, jewelry and accessories are all very well represented.
There is a good selection of restaurants on the 7th floor with both Japanese and Western cuisine, as well as cafes, and casual fast food eateries.
On the 8th floor there is an event hall and also an area devoted to “print club” or “purikura” photograph booths. The 9th floor is completely taken up with games machines of every description.
The Ferris Wheel
This is the main attraction of HEP FIVE. You can board the Ferris wheel from the 7th floor. The 75 meter diameter wheel has 52 four-seater gondolas which take 15 minutes to make one complete circuit. At its highest point it is 106 meters above ground and offers spectacular views over the city all the way to Osaka Harbor. The fare is 500 yen for a ride, and elementary school age children or younger can ride for free. Commemorative photos are also available for 1,100 yen. All the gondolas are fully air conditioned and have heating in the winter months. At night the whole wheel is illuminated.
Right next door to HEP FIVE is the boat-shaped building HEP NAVIO which contains Hankyu Men’s clothing store, more dining facilities, and the Toho Cinema Complex.
HEP FIVE Location Map
HEP FIVE is a six minute walk east of Osaka Station and a four minute walk south of Hankyu Osaka-Umeda Station. It is super easy to find because of the giant red wheel.
Stores: 11.00 – 21.00
Restaurants: 11.00 – 22.30
Amusements: 11.00 – 23.00
The Ferris Wheel: 11.00 – 22.45
Article and original photos by Michael Lambe. All rights reserved.