Convenient! Fun! What You Can Do at “Michi-no-Eki” (Roadside Rest Area)
Some visitors to Japan go to a sightseeing area by rental cars. In that case, it is convenient for them to know "Michi-no-Eki". The Michi-no-Eki is a roadside rest area to allow drivers to safely drive. There are 1,145 facilities nationwide (as of 2018). Actually, it has many attractive things besides being a rest area. Now, we are specifically showing you what you can do there.
Free Toilet Can be Used for 24 Hours Comfortably.
As the Michi-no-Eki is subject to a rule to offer toilets free for 24 hours, it is very convenient for car users. Besides, you can comfortably take a toilet break in a clean bathroom equipped with toilet paper. Since the Michi-no-Eki is also displayed in a car navigation, it is a good idea to check Michi-no-Eki facilities on a route from a departure point to a destination. When coming close to the object, you should pay attention to an information sign of Michi-no-Eki not to miss it. You can also search them on Michi-no-Eki official site https://www.michi-no-eki.jp/.
You Can Buy Local Specialties
The Michi-no-Eki also serves as a function for regional promotion. Accordingly, any Michi-no-Eki has a farmers market for agricultural products. So, you can buy rice, vegetables, fruits, etc. produced painstakingly by local farmers. Fresh and cheap, they are also popular among the locals. While agricultural products are mainly sold, you can get fish, dairy such as cow milk and yoghurt, and processed foods made carefully in the local area, for example, miso, tofu, honey, jam, dressing at lower price than high-end super markets, depending on places. Some of the Michi-no-Eki handle local art crafts such as woodworks, potteries and textiles.
You Can Eat Local Gourmet Foods.
As the Michi-no-Eki often include a restaurant, you don’t have to look for them. The size of restaurant is different depending on Michi-no-Eki, from shops for snacks such as soba and curry to ones for set meals and rice bowls with which you would be full up. Anyway, you can usually enjoy local gourmet foods there. A restaurant in a production area of beans serves udon noodles containing beans, the one near a fishing port offers fresh fish dishes. Some restaurants provide regional cuisines using seasonal ingredients such as bamboo shoots only for limited period. Also, as rice and ingredients of miso soup, vegetables for salad and pickles are often produced in that area, you can taste plenty of regional foods in one meal in the middle of driving trip.
Refresh Yourself with Local Sweets During Driving Trip.
Soft-serve ice cream and ice cream that you eat when taking a rest in a driving trip is exceptional. In addition to classic vanilla and green tea etc., you will be able to meet rare soft-serve ice creams, ice creams, and gelato which are made from green peppers, tomatoes, and seaweed only at Michi-no-Eki. This is because, as each municipality is also involved in the operation of Michi-no-Eki, there are many cases that delicious and topical cold sweets are invented and sold at Michi-no-Eki, aiming to having many people know about regional unique vegetables and fruits. Information is also provided on Michi-no-Eki Official Website.
You Can Experience Hot Springs, History, and Events in that Region
A lot of Michi-no-Eki offer other various enjoyable services than “buying” and “eating”, for example, offering hot springs and foot baths, conveying regional development history, and holding festivals for antiques and harvest, etc. Especially, a lot of local people visit events only for limited period. Community-based Michi-no-Eki may be regarded as a place where you can experience ordinary life of Japanese people. Among Japanese people who like Michi-no-Eki, a stamp-rally to collect stamps of facility’s name is also popular. How about trying to stamp the name of Michi-no-Eki in memory of visiting Japan?