5. Kirara Taki, Shimane Prefecture
Located in the western part of Honshu, the largest of the Japanese islands, Shimane Prefecture is a little bit off the beaten tourist track despite boasting a beautiful castle, the former home of Lafcardio Hearn and one of the best roadside stops in Japan. What makes Kirara Taki so special? Certainly the chance to relax in the onsen hot springs and the huge choice of fresh seafood help, but best of all, if you fancy a swim or a sunbathe, it’s all within spitting distance of a beautiful beach on the Sea of Japan.
4. Tarumizu, Kagoshima Prefecture
Next we head to the southernmost tip of the island of Kyushu. Located not far from the active volcano Sakurajima, Tarumizu Rest Area provides some stunning views. But there’s more than just the vista, as Kyushu is home to several hot springs, one of which can be found at the rest area. Help yourself relax and recuperate from your drive by sticking your weary feet into hot water as you gaze out over the bay. It also has a dolphin-viewing restaurant so you can keep an eye out for the stunning marine creatures as you dine.
3. Furari Tomiyama, Chiba Prefecture
The only one of the top five to be an easy drive from Tokyo, Furari may not be able to compete with the panoramic views of some of the others but it makes up for this where it counts: food. Trip Advisor’s users all raved about the two-story roadside station with a huge selection of freshly caught seafood, locally grown vegetables, locally produced ice cream and other dairy products, and the sheer choice of other souvenirs. There are also several fruit picking seasons throughout the year where visitors can pick, or even help produce the delicious local produce.
2. Itoman, Okinawa Prefecture
Just as it does with castles, Okinawa hits above its weight when it comes to roadside station competitions, with three in the top twenty (as many as vast Hokkaido). At Itoman Rest Area you can mingle with the locals and fill your stomach to bursting with fresh fish and local delicacies. Trip Advisor users were particularly flowing with praise for the serving sizes. Turn up on the right day, and you may even find yourself part of one of their eating competitions or witness to a dancing performance.
1. Nango, Miyazaki Prefecture
The Trip Advisor results show that what Japanese people favor when it comes to roadside stations is food, hot springs, more food, scenery and yet more food. Another Kyushu roadside station, Nango Rest Area, clinched the top spot with its abundance of sub-tropical souvenirs such as fresh mangos, dekopons (a lumpy orange-like citrus fruit) and the tableau which greeted visitors’ eyes as they looked out along the Miyazaki coastline.
As for the full list of the top 20 roadside service stops, check out the full story at Rocket News 24.
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