Seems the people of Japan are listening to their stomachs when choosing the best of the nation’s roadside attractions.
Depending on where you’re from, roadside rest stops may have a long history, but in Japan they are relatively new. Originating in the ’90s, they are commonly known as “road stations” (michi no eki) alluding to their second place status to their more well-established counterparts, train stations.
However, rest stops have exploded in the ensuing decades, growing to 1,145 nationwide as of April this year. As a result, much like in other countries, visiting a rest stop can be a bit of a gamble in terms of quality.
Thankfully, travel website Jalan has been releasing an annual ranking of rest stops in terms of customer satisfaction. Now, for the third year, they have announced the top 10 road stations for 2018.
Hyogo-ken, Awaji-shi, Iwaya 1873-1
First place honors went to the Awaji rest stop on the northern tip of Awaji Island in Hyogo Prefecture. Located under the huge Akashi Kaikyo Bridge and next to a spacious park, it’s the perfect place to relax.
However, it’s the food that has visitors singing its praises. With a wide range of high-quality beef, onions, and seafood there a lots of delicious foods to sample including their famous raw shirasu (very small fish) available between April and November.
Fukuoka-ken, Munakata-shi, Egushi 1172
Located seaside between Kitakyushu and Fukuoka Cities in Fukuoka Prefecture, the Munakata road station also has plenty of fresh air and sunshine to spare. Yet, once again, it’s the wide range of fresh seafood that keeps Munakata bustling with people whenever the weekend rolls around.
Hiroshima-ken, Sera-gun, Sera-cho, Kawajiri 2402-1
Once again, food is dominating the list with Sera’s array of seasonal fruits and vegetables standing as the centerpiece of what it has to offer. But there’s so much more available from rice to wine to tomato ice cream. And why not pick up some limited Hiroshima Carp swag while you’re at it?
Fukushima-ken, Yama-gun, Inawashiro-cho, Katada, Goyakujari 1
Although, their piping-hot dishes are nothing to turn your nose up at, Road Station Inawashiro in Fukushima Prefecture has a lot of unique items to check out. Dare to take on their Natto Bread or pick up some of their many handmade traditional crafts.
Iwate-ken, Iwate-gun, Shizukuishi-cho, Hashiba Sakamoto 118-10
If I ruled the list Shizukuishi Anekko in Iwate Prefecture would be at the top simply