East Nippon Expressway Co., Ltd. (NEXCO East Japan) (http://www.e-nexco.co.jp/english/), which provides a wide variety of services at service and parking areas along its expressways, has introduced these areas on its ranking list.
Rankings of expressway service and parking areas that NEXCO East Japan recommends to tourists from abroad:
No. 1: Hanyu Parking Area on Tohoku Expressway (along Tokyo-bound lanes) — “Hanyu Onihei Edo-dokoro”
It is a parking area where you can feel as if you slipped back in time to the Edo period (1603-1867). You can enjoy streetscapes of the Edo era as well as buying souvenirs and food.
No. 2: Yorii Parking Area on Kan-Etsu Expressway (along Tokyo-bound lanes) — “Hoshi no Oji-sama (The Little Prince) Parking Area”
You can enjoy the world of “The Little Prince” at Yorii Parking Area. There, the streetscapes of Provence, a southern France region that its author Antoine de Saint-Exupery comes from, has been reproduced at this parking area.
No. 3: Yokokawa Service Area on Joshin-Etsu Expressway (along Tokyo-bound lanes)
It is a unique service area where you can transfer to trains. You can enjoy “Toge no Kamameshi,” one of the most popular ekiben (boxed lunch sold at railway stations) in Japan, at the “Yokokawa Station Memorial” zone of the service area which is designed after Yokokawa Station on the JR Shin-Etsu Line. Toge no Kamameshi was originally sold at Yokokawa Station.
No. 4: Nasu Kogen (Highland) Service Area on Tohoku Expressway (along Tokyo-bound lanes)
In this service area, you can feel as if you were at a highland resort area as an imperial villa is situated in a highland area of the Nasu region. A nature-rich promenade has been reproduced in this service area. There is also a restaurant with tables outside on the patio. Why don’t you relax in the Nasu Kogen Service Area on the Tohoku Expressway (along Tokyo-bound lanes)?
No. 5: Umihotaru (Sea Fireflies) Parking Area along Tokyo Bay Aqua-Line (Trans-Tokyo Bay Expressway)
Umihotaru is a five-story parking area built on a 650-meter-long manmade island in the Tokyo Bay. How about visiting the Umihotaru Parking Area? It is a shopping mall in the middle of the ocean with many shops and restaurants, and commanding a panoramic view of the Tokyo Bay that cannot be seen elsewhere.
Service areas and parking areas along expressways in Japan have been built not only as rest stations for expressway users but also as areas that they can enjoy as part of their sightseeing. Through driving trips using expressways, you can enjoy service areas and parking areas unique to Japan.
“‘Cool Travel, Cool Expressway’ Hai-kara na tabi,” an e-book which recommends nice tourist spots for driving trips can be accessed by clicking the following URL: http://en.driveplaza.com/haikara/
NEXCO East Japan’s website introducing expressway rest areas can be accessed by clicking the following
URL: http://en.driveplaza.com/rest_facilities/ Enjoy driving trips in Japan and discover new aspects of Japan.