The HEP Five (Hep5, Hankyu Entertainment Park) giant red Ferris Wheel was one of the first things I saw in Osaka; it was the first thing my friend showed me. I completely reccomend the Ferris wheel – I got to see a great view of Osaka city, Osaka Harbor, and a sneak peak at Mount Ikoma.
The Ferris wheel is located on the top floor of HEP Five, the Shibuya 109 of Osaka (Tokyo people will understand that reference). With around 17 million visitors a year, since its opening in 1998, the Hep Five building is themed red alongside the Ferris wheel. The other floors are filled with over a hundred specialty shops and brand name clothing shops for young adults and teenagers.
The front of HEP Five is also the iconic “meeting place” in Osaka (basically the Hachiko Statue of Osaka). Alright, i’m done with the Tokyo references.
When you get to the top floor, buy a ticket at the window. Tickets are 500yen for elementary students and older. The Ferris wheel is open seven days a week, from 11:00am – 23:00pm (although the “last call” is at 22:45pm).
Usually there is a bit of a weight on weekends (the wheel is full of teen girl groups and couples); we happened to go on a pretty rainy day, so there was no line. After you buy your ticket, an attendant three steps away will rip your ticket and escort you in line. The next attendant will look at your stub and escort you to your cart.
The inside of the Ferris wheel cart was incredibly comfortable. During the winter, the red seats are heated nicely (as well as the heated cabin).
The entire ride is smooth and comfortable. Despite the fact it was raining pretty heavily, the cart barely rocked.
On the side closest to the center of the axis of the Ferris wheel is an iPod jack. My friend plugged her iPod in; we jammed out to Maroon5 for the entire trip. The trip itself was about fifteen minutes, since the diameter of the Ferris wheel is exactly 75 meters.
The highest point of the Hep5 Ferris Wheel is 106m above the ground. As I ssaid before, we could see most of Osaka city (from either direction – in any case the clouds covered a bit of the city), Osaka harbor, and Mount Ikoma.
At the tip of the Ferris wheel, you are supposed to clasp your hands together and pray.
I think the coolest part of the ride were the sides. On all four of the sides of the Ferris wheel were “stick figure” outlines of the surrounding buildings.
I had a fun time trying to tilt my head and line up the buildings. It never seemed to work. This was the closest I got (for the entire ride).
All in all, the HEP Five Ferris Wheel is great. They have a nice gift shop and cafe at the end; the entire thing is very comfortable.
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