TripAdvisor's Ranking of Top 30 Michi-no-Eki Roadside Stations in Japan Released for 2019!
TripAdvisor recently released its list of Japan’s best Michi-no-Eki for 2019, as voted by travelers! Michi-no-Eki, or "roadside stations", are places for those traveling by car to stop, take a break, and maybe pick up a meal while driving. At the best ones, travelers can experience gourmet local foods, get insider tourist information, and even shop for souvenirs. If you’re planning a road trip in Japan, or are just curious about Japan’s unique roadside stations, read on to find out which ones took top place in 2019!
Sep 19 2019 (Apr 15 2020)
What Are Michi-no-Eki?
The Michi-no-Eki system was established around 20 years ago to improve convenience and safety for drivers while also promoting regional tourism throughout Japan.
The literal translation of Michi-no-Eki is "roadside station". Just like at Japan's super-handy train stations, these roadside stations serve as a hub where you can recharge and refresh, enjoy local foods and products, and find useful tourist information.
Depending on where you’re from, a roadside rest stop might not bring to mind a gourmet dining experience, but in Japan, the focus on local food culture means that the food you can find at these pit stops can be a travel highlight in and of itself!
All Michi-no-Eki roadside stations provide 24-hour access to parking, public bathrooms, and travel information, so if you're traveling by car in Japan, it's a great idea to familiarize yourself with their locations along your route. There are around 1,000 Michi-no-Eki throughout Japan, and you can find information about them in English on the official Michi-no-Eki website.
The Top 3 Michi-no-Eki
First Place Winner: Michi-no-Eki Itoman
The winner for 2019 is Michi-no-Eki Itoman in Itoman, Okinawa. This stop has all the useful facilities you'd expect of a Japanese roadside station, but what helped Michi-no-Eki Itoman take the top spot is the vast range of freshly-caught local seafood you can buy here for surprisingly low prices. Tuna is the local specialty, along with other seafood delights like grilled scallops, hokki clam, and shrimp. Okinawa is known throughout Japan for its incredible seafood, and a visit to Michi-no-Eki Itoman will show you why!
Second Place Winner: Michi-no-Eki Awaji
Michi-no-Eki Awaji is a rare type of rest stop that’s located right at a sightseeing destination! This roadside station in Awaji, Hyogo, is situated right beside the giant Akashi Kaikyo Bridge that connects Kobe to Awaji Island. This suspension bridge has the longest central span in the world, which gives you a sense of its scope, and this incredible feat of engineering really is a mind-boggling sight to behold.
This rest stop is also well reviewed for its gourmet seafood-topped rice bowls. Pick one up and enjoy a break from driving with the incredible view of the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge accented by the blue waters and fresh breeze of the Seto Inland Sea.
Third Place Winner: Michi-no-Eki Shodoshima Olive Garden
Coming in third place is the Michi-no-Eki Shodoshima Olive Garden on Shodoshima Island. Located in Kagawa Prefecture, this island is a little off the beaten track, but is well worth a visit for its olive plantations, natural landscapes, and sunny, Mediterranean atmosphere.
Michi-no-Eki Shodoshima Olive Garden has earned rave reviews for its pretty olive tree-lined grounds, its distinctive windmill, and their great tourist information center, which gives out information about the local olive industry. Don’t miss the chance to try some unique treats like olive soft serve ice cream and olive soda here, too.
TripAdvisor's Top 10 Michi-no-Eki for 2019
1. Michi-no-Eki Itoman (Itoman City, Hokkaido)
2. Michi-no-Eki Awaji (Awaji City, Hyogo)
3. Michi-no-Eki Shodoshima Olive Garden (Shodoshima Island, Kagawa)
4. Michi-no-Eki Yufuin (Kafu City, Oita)
5. Michi-no-Eki Senza Kitchen (Nagato City, Yamaguchi)
6. Michi-no-Eki Uzushio (Minamiawaji City, Hyogo)
7. Michi-no-Eki Kisarazu Umakuta no Sato (Kisarazu City, Chiba)
8. Michi-no-Eki Hota Elementary School (Kyonan Town, Chiba)
9. Michi-no-Eki Yonezawa (Yonezawa City, Yamagata)
10. Michi-no-Eki Kawaba Denen Plaza (Kawaba Village, Gunma)
You can see the full top 30 list on the TripAdvisor Michi-no-Eki ranking feature page. Although the reviews are shown in Japanese, the station names and locations are also listed below in English. If you find one you're interested in, you can click it and change the settings so that it displays the information and reviews in your local language.
If this article about Japan's luxury rest stops has you intrigued, check out our Complete Guide to Driving in Japan for Travelers! It has everything you need to know about renting and traveling by car in Japan.
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The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.