Your guide to Herbis Plaza and Herbis Plaza ENT – for the best shopping, eating, and entertainment in Osaka.
If you find yourself in Osaka looking for an afternoon activity or a sophisticated evening out, or perhaps both, Herbis Plaza features some of the best of what the city has to offer – shopping, international dining, live music, theater, travel agencies, and even a golf studio – all under one roof. Make that two roofs, actually, as the plaza encompasses two separate structures. Herbis Plaza proper is home to establishments including fashion and jewelry boutiques, interior goods shops, and restaurants and gourmet food stores. Meanwhile, Herbis Plaza ENT (which stands for, you guessed it, entertainment), offers these same shop categories along with concert venue Billboard Live OSAKA and the Osaka branch of Japan’s famous Shiki Theatre Company, as well as an entire floor dedicated to beauty and relaxation.
High-End Luxury Destination
With the presence of prestigious brand names such as Gucci, Tiffany & Co., and Emporio Armani, the plaza was originally designed as a high-end luxury destination. It recently unveiled a large-scale renovation project covering a total of 40 to 50 shops aimed in part to make the facility more accessible to a wider swath of consumers. Takashi Okamoto of the Hankyu Hanshin Building Management Co. Ltd., which operates the plaza, notes that while Herbis still offers the extravagance for which it has always been known, it now provides a more extensive range of options. “Since our remodeling, we’ve seen an influx of customers coming to patronize our men’s clothing and bridal wear stores, for example, as well as to shop for everything from high-end bicycles to cigars.”
“The nearby Chayamachi district has a great lively atmosphere for young people,” Okamoto continues, “but Nishi-Umeda, where Herbis Plaza is located, offers patrons a more sophisticated vibe. People come here for an evening of live music or theater, or to dine at one of our establishments, such as the stylish open kitchen at our Maimon restaurant – perhaps getting together for a celebration with friends.”
Modern Conveniences, Magical Experience
Pro tip: expect to put your navigational skills to the test within the sprawling plaza, which spans six floors on one side and seven on the other, and whose floor guide comes in the form of a massive foldout pamphlet (in Japanese) that may take a moment to sink in. If you find yourself disoriented, take advantage of the telephone-based interpreting service that the complex offers in English, Chinese, Korean, Thai, Russian, Portuguese, and Spanish to help shoppers or diners in need. The wander is all part of the fun, though. In fact, the concept of losing oneself (figuratively) inside the complex may be intentional: the escalator ride down from the Herbis Plaza ENT’s top-floor theater brings one face-to-face with fantastically designed mirrors and faux box office seats adorning the walls; a deliberate design in order to give patrons one more magical experience before heading home following their evening show.
To give you a head start, however, we’ve picked out five favorite shops and three delicious dining spots to try.
WHERE TO SHOP
This shop prides itself on the concept of connecting people and goods. A discerning eye for detail is apparent among the products within its lineup, which include Waldmann fountain pens from Germany and Australian Stock watches. Particularly popular among the shop’s foreign clientele are Japanese-style goods including Shotoku Glass saké flask/cup sets, Kamawanu brand tenugui (hand-dyed cotton cloths), Azumaya Marukyusu ceramic tea pots from Aichi Prefecture, and unique porcelain tableware from the Yumiko Iihoshi collection, which the shopkeeper described intriguingly as “straddling that elusive border between being handmade and not.”
Asked to describe the concept of this store, the stylish shopkeeper first looked a little taken aback before declaring, “We are here for men who want to look sexy.” Taking its cue from fashion in Italy, where the shop manager regularly travels to procure merchandise, Guji offers an array of goods for even the most discerning male fashionista. Hot-ticket items include a specially made Ring Jacket fashioned from Carlo Barbera fabric, Baudoin & Lange loafers – which we were informed are poised to begin trending this autumn – and a pop-up-style exhibition featuring an array of men’s grooming products from Acqua di Parma. Fan tip: famous horse racers sometimes shop here due to the array of slim clothing sizes on offer.
Modeled after Danish design store Illums Bolighus, this stylish interior shop features Scandinavian home goods in warm woods and other natural materials that are designed for long-term use, and – as the shop proprietor told us – to “become well-loved inside the home.” Tourists wanting to pack lightly will appreciate the array of easy-to-carry goods on offer, including soft Swedish Klippan towels that can be used by those of all ages; double-layered Pavina glasses from Danish accessory store Bodum, which are lightweight and ideal for cocktails; and a one-push umbrella from Germany (not quite Scandinavia, although close). With 2018 marking 150 years of friendship between Japan and Sweden, the shop has a particular emphasis this year on promoting Swedish goods, including Karby organic diffusers and whimsical ceramic animal figures from artist Lisa Larson.
You may have found yourself a new best friend by the time you step out of this shop, as proprietor Hirokatsu Yanase is as much about making connections with humans as he is about clothing them. A self-named “fabric sommelier” who specializes in individually crafted bespoke clothing items, Yanase’s overarching concept is for people to take charge of their own clothing choices rather than relying on the cookie-cutter, pret-a-porter model of dress. He spends time getting to know each customer in order to interpret their individual wants to the designer while also determining their budget. He understands the nuances of cultural influences upon clothing, and is likely to spin off into fascinating stories from his voyages to far-flung corners of the globe. He continues to travel regularly, adding continually to his collection of modern and vintage fabrics that are sourced from materials including bamboo, silk, linen, and wool, and which presently number more than 4,000 types.
Featuring high-end tableware from both European and Japanese makers, this shop counts among its clientele some of the country’s top hotels and restaurants – including numerous Michelin-starred establishments – although some 20 percent of its patrons are regular household customers. The shop’s concept of clean simplicity and durability is encapsulated perfectly by its featured Moriyama glassware collection, which includes wooden lacquerware, Black Sapphire plates and Miyagi slate alongside glass pieces. Other trending items include French Laguiole steak knives, and high-end wine openers that make perfect gifts for the folks back home.
WHERE TO EAT
Foodies, take note: if you had to choose one place within which to lose yourself to your wildest epicurean cravings, Herbis Plaza and Herbis Plaza ENT are definitely your destinations. Home to everything from haute Thai cuisine to authentic Italian cafés to French creperies – mozzarella bars to chocolatiers to all manner of washoku – the complex caters to every taste imaginable.
The plaza prides itself on its tradition of omotenashi (Japanese-style hospitality), quality products and knowledgeable staff – and these are all out in full force within the dining scene in addition to the shopping part of the complex.
A visit to Herbis Plaza is a feast for the senses, and in addition to all of the fine dining options on offer, you’ll want to take in the atmospheric touches that will complement your visit: the soft jazz music, the overhead wooden beams and nighttime mood lighting within the restaurant corridors; the scent of essential oil diffusers and fresh coffee wafting through the air; the strategically positioned art pieces; and the vertical garden installed as part of recent renovations in order to help green the environment while infusing the plaza with a verdant touch.
Another interesting addition is a theater pipe organ that stands regally alongside one of the plaza escalators, occasionally launching into resounding music and also being used for live concerts that feature other classical musicians.
As for where to eat and drink while you’re here, read on…
This intimate bar, modeled after an old-style English study, has all of the refined touches: bookshelves lined with paperbacks, leather furniture, a wooden case stocked with Laphroaig Scotch whisky, and smoke wafting through the air. We ordered a house cocktail, the Lemon Grass – which we were told was a variation on the standard Sol Cubano – and were blown away by the exceedingly refreshing touch that was added by wrapping a fresh stalk of lemon grass around the straw. Other popular cocktails on offer include the Negroni, and the Old Fashioned – the latter of which Hiramatsu crafts using bourbon whiskey, orange rind and brown sugar.
Bishoku Maimon Umeda
This restaurant’s logo welcomes you with the gorgeously styled characters for its name, which translate into “American Gate.” Originally featuring U.S. food culture, the establishment now focuses exclusively on Japanese cuisine that is prepared from ingredients sourced daily from various regions around the country. Along with standards such as tempura, sushi and sashimi, a signature Maimon dish is the unikuradon – a rice-bowl-styled dish topped by a combination of sea urchin and salmon roe. Other popular offerings include a tender filet mignon that came served with seasonal vegetables, shaved chips of garlic and gobo (burdock root), an onion-shoyu sauce on top, and a garnish of special charcoal salt from Ishikawa Prefecture’s Noto peninsula. The restaurant’s open kitchen adds a lively vibe to the dining experience.
Celebrating all things wine in its stores across Japan, this combination shop and café features wine from across the globe, and also brings in international winemakers for tastings and seminars in its pursuit of bringing together the consumer and producer. The store’s present top seller is the Clarendelle Bordeaux, which is followed closely by other French, Spanish, and Italian wines. It also features additional wines such as Chilean Montes, Argentinian Malbec, and a selection of Napa Valley reds and whites. Customers are invited to bring their wine into the adjacent café, where for a ¥1,080 fee they may enjoy it along with dishes such as a sumptuously rich beef stew featuring – but of course – a splash of red; in our case, a cabernet sauvignon from southern France.
2-5-25 Umeda, Kita-ku, Osaka
HERBIS PLAZA ENT
2-2-22 Umeda, Kita-ku, Osaka
06-6343-7500 | www.herbis.jp
Photographs by Solveig Boergen