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HEP (short for "Hankyu Entertainment Park") Five is a nine-story building located in the Umeda district of Osaka, across the street from the Hankyu Department Store, between Hep Navio and the Osaka Loop Line. It's easy to find: look for a giant red Ferris wheel sticking out of the skyline, and you've found it. If you walk in and see boots selling for a thousand dollars and a giant red fiberglass sperm whale hanging from the ceiling, you'll know you're in the right place.

Hep Five is like a shopping mall, only way cooler. There is a pachinko parlor in the basement. Several Western retailers have stores in Hep Five—Gap, the Disney Store, the Virgin Megastore, and Polo Jeans—but the vast majority of the stores you'll find there are wacky Japanese holes-in-the wall with funny names like Playboy (a women's clothing boutique), LDS (a jewelry shop), Guilty (an accessory shop), and 291295=Homme (a men's clothing store).

The seventh floor of Hep Five is a food hall. Most gaijin in Osaka go there for Starbucks, but there are two restaurants that blow Starbucks out of the water. Princess Club is an ice cream store that looks like something out of a Barbie Dream House, but you can get a sundae the size of your head for 900 yen. Pomunoki is where all my Japanese friends used to go when they visited Hep Five: it is a restaurant specializing in omuraisu (rice omelets) of all different kinds: cheese, okonomiyaki, shrimp, etc. (Yes, these are all rice omelets. And yes, they really are as scary as they sound, but you have to try them anyway. It's CULTURE, goddammit!)

As I briefly mentioned before, there is also a Ferris wheel on top of Hep Five: you board on the seventh floor. It costs 700 yen to ride, and takes fifteen minutes to complete a circle. It's probably the best view of Osaka you'll get outside of a helicopter, so do check it out when you go.

The eighth and ninth floors are occupied by Sega Joypolis (slightly smaller than the Joypolis at Tokyo Teleport, from what I'm told), a major-league arcade roughly similar to Dave and Buster's in the US. It has a couple hundred video game machines and several virtual reality attractions.

Oh yeah, they have a Subway, too! I wouldn't advise trying to order from Subway unless you know some serious Japanese, though: stick to beer vending machines.

English website: http://www.livehep.com/about/index2.asp

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