Do you know “Roadside station” that has been rapidly increased its numbers in recent Japan? It’s called “Michi-no-Eki (道の駅)” in Japanese. You might have seen it on the roadside when you drive. This time, we will talk about this “Michinoeki” which I visited in Fukuoka.
What is “Michi-no-Eki” ?
“Michinoeki” is the place that facilities open 24 hours for travelers to rest, and also for the regional development of local towns. It provides facilities as parking space, restroom, telephone, and local road traffic and tourist information. And some other services are provided such as vending machines, restaurants, shops that selling local farm products. It is registered by Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, then it’s built and managed by each municipality. There are currently over 1000 Michinoeki in the country.
Originally there were service area (SA) and parking area (PA) in the expressway of Japan, but had few public rest stations on the public road.
In the fact that more and more people became to have own cars, rest facilities for drivers has become necessary, and Michinoeki service has started since the 1990s.
Michinoeki perform not only the function as rest facilities, also sending out the information of sightseeing, road and for local special product. Furthermore, it has a purpose of cooperation and activation of the region by having facilities such as cultural education facility and also recreation facility. In reality, I saw many local people instead of tourists at Michinoeki I visited this time.
Let’s look into the roadside station!
I visited two of Michinoeki this time, “Michinoeki-Usui (道の駅うすい)” and “Michinoeki-Oto-Sakura-Kaido (おおとう桜街道)”. “Oto-Sakura-Kaido” is well known for its toilet that called “100 million yen restroom”. And also it is the Michinoeki with the only hot spring facilities in Fukuoka (Nov/2015).
First, this is Michinoeki-Usui(道の駅うすい), which near the house where my parents live. Out side of Main building, there are restroom, parking lot and some vending machines. Basic facilities are equipped. Inside of the building there are bakery, Sweets Shop, Takoyaki shop, Udon/Soba noodle shop and a farm product direct sale shop.
If there is only this Michinoeki around here, then it would be few people carry a foot in the region. But there are such as a convenience store and a drugstore, a home center and the ATM concentrated in less than several hundred meter around this Michinoeki. So it carries a very useful role in the life of local residents.
Basic admission fee is 600 yen (500 yen under 12 years old), medical care bath 1100 yen (1000 yen under 12). In addition, there are 3 family baths (private bath for 60 min) and it’s basic admission fee + 1100 yen. There is eating facility and rest space in this building as well.
If you find a roadside station by the roadside, please drop in. The roadside station seems to have various types by nature of the locality.
Michi-no-Eki; Usui (道の駅うすい)
Address: 328-1 Kamiusui Kama-shi, Fukuoka-ken, 820-0502
Access: From Fukuoka city: (This route has tolls) About 30 min Kyushu Expressway Fukuoka I.C. National highway No.201 to the prefectural road No.60, then drive to prefectural road No.90 about 20 min.
Opening hours: shops: 9:00 – 18:30
Closing day: Third Wednesday, 1/1 – 1/3
Michi-no-Eki; Oto-Sakura-Kaido (道の駅おおとう桜街道)
Address: 1339 Imatobaru Oto-machi, Tagawa-gun, Fukuoka 824-0511
About 4.6 km in prefectural road No.52 to the south from the National highway No.322 Kawara intersection (香春交差点).
About 0.5 km in prefectural road No.52 to the south from the National highway No.322 Simo-Imato-Minami intersection (下今任南交差点).
Opening hours: Shop: 9:00 – 18:30 / Food court: 10:00 – 20:00 / Spa: 10:00 – 22:00 (Might be change by season)
Closing day: Shop: 1/1 – 1/2, Spa: 12/31