Quirky Japan: Highway Rest Stops

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Oliver and Owen on top of the playground hill at a highway rest stop.

After visiting several highway rest stops in the country, I would say that Japan has the highest quality rest stops in the world. We took a break yesterday in our journey from Osaka to Tokyo. First, the bathrooms are 5-star hotel quality and always clean and modern, as you can see below. Lights indicate if a stall is occupied and there is a lack of odors. I usually look upon using a public bathroom as something to get through, but here, it is a pleasurable experience.

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The photos in the post are from the “oasis” or rest stop near Shizuoka, on the Tomei expressway between Nagoya and Tokyo. The food court looked like a shopping mall. In Japan there are very few international or American franchises, so the choices were mostly Japanese cuisine. Lots of shopping also with souvenirs, local crafts and convenience items.

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They also had lots of information regarding road conditions and tourist activities. The board below was a touch screen in Japanese and English.

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The infrastructure for driving is world class in Japan. The expressway was in perfect condition. Because it is a mountainous country, a lesser infrastructure would mean winding, dangerous roads up and down the steep slopes, but here, the expressway goes through via tunnels. Although we didn’t count, there were probably 25-30 tunnels along the way, ranging in length from 100 meters to 5 kilometers. It is good to see my tax money at work. The toll was expensive, it cost us $85 US to travel from Osaka to the outskirts of Tokyo. However, as I get older, I appreciate more road safety and I think of the many lives are saved with better highways. The extra costs go towards protecting citizens. The entrance ramps were all lighted to provide extra visibility. Parking lot attendants direct tired drivers to the most convenient parking spots.

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Traffic was not bad as I thought, this being a holiday. There were only 5 times where traffic slowed for a few minutes near exchanges. Japan is a densely populated nation with lots of cars, but they manage it smoothly.

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