What is ‘Michi-no-Eki’?
‘Michi-no-Eki’ (meaning Roadside Station) is a facility created for the two motivations; promoting the local area and offering a rest for drivers and constructing communication flows between the area and the visitors. In 1993, the first 103 stations started their operation and now, in 2013, there are 1004 ‘Michi-no-Eki’ all over in Japan.
The Japanese word ‘Eki’ means ‘station’ in English but before railroads were set in Japan, the word ‘Eki’ used to signify ‘ShukubaW’.
‘Shukuba’ were post stations or post towns during Edo PeriodW (1603-1868), generally located on main roads providing accomodations, food and rest for travelers during their journey. They were created based on the policies for the transportation of goods by horseback which were developed during Nara periodW (710-794) and Heian periodW (794-1185).
Today on motorways in Japan, there are many Service and Parking areas where drivers can take a rest, eat and shop while ‘Michi-no-Eki’ are located either on National Route or Prefectural Road which are usually commnunity roads for the people living in the area and have strong connection with the local.
In Michi-no-Eki, with no exception, there are toilets (very clean) and large parking lot which you can use at any time of the day throughout the year free of charge. There is always a building which has a simple restaurant where you can feed yourself with Japanese combination food and plain food such as Curry with rice and Ramen (noodles) and a market place where they sell local related products and seasonal crops delivered by local farmers at sell which is a ‘ought-to-see’. Some of the crops are typical Japanese which should be new to some of you and some very familiar though different in size, colour or shapes. Some of the farmers of the district are attempting to grow crops which are pretty new in Japan which could give you some offer in making your traditional dishes while you are in Japan. Since the farmers bring their products directly to the market, the price is less expensive regarding its qualities. Besides tourists and drivers, local people come for shopping as an alternative to supermarkets.
In our site, we consider Michi-no-Eki as a marking spot for the tourism of the area. This is because you will find a large roadsign of Michi-no-EKi which is easy to find on the road and that they provide and present you what’s around the area.
Japan is famous for the vast railway system. You can go to any cities all over Japan by trains and busses without almost any delays. For beginner travelers in Japan, traveling only on train and busses should be satisfactory. But for advanced travelers or repeaters, it is worthwhile to go to places where no foreigners have been to. Travel is like an adventure. To find your own Japan, one of the ideas is to go to places where few trains and busses run and drive yourself in Japan to find your exclusive place!
Tokyo is a big, interesting and fascinating city. Still, it is one of the international cities in the world that you may not find what used to be ‘Tokyo’. Tokyo is now a city “MADE” for the interests, convenience and business.
Outside Tokyo, many places suffer from depopulation in inverse proportion to the prosperity of Tokyo. But we are sure that the virtue of Japan still remains in these towns and villages outside Tokyo, the beauty of landscape, the beauty of architecture in a good harmony with the nature, and the ‘OMOTENASHI’ mind, a mind to entertain and welcome guests coming from outside which Japan acknowledged as one of its’ virtues 160 yeas ago by foreigners who pointed out.
Take our site, ‘2 Hours Drive From Tokyo’ presented by us, Navis Argenti (meaning ‘Silver Ship’) to find and design your trip in Japan, a “REAL” Japan outside Tokyo to find the 160-year-ago virtues of Japan that still exixst, making this country unique and attracting!
Navis Argenti introduces you to interesting spots to visit outside Tokyo as well as Japanese cultural, historical background for your deep understanding and driving tips to get to the place where you really wanted to see in Japan.
While traveling outside Tokyo, you may find less road signs which could lose your way. To be honest, there are few people who speak English to help you to the right way. But this doesn’t mean that they won’t help you! It’s the matter of language. We have set up ‘Michi-no-Eki as a center point of the area so that you could figure out where you are regarding this point as your stating point of the area.
Moreover, we regret to inform you that the language used in Michi-no-Eki is only in Japanese and only a few working at these places understands or speaks English. Still, we assert that what you see and feel outside big cities like Tokyo is more ‘Japanese’. Some may hesitate in front of you, wave their hand or shake their heads and walk away if you ask them something but this does not mean they are unfriendly. Some of you might know but many Japanese are shy and embarrassed to speak back in English even if they know what you are saying. They are shy or embarrassed by prefigurating themselves making easy mistakes when speaking English back to you. This may sound strange to those who have no culture like this but in Japan there is. To avoid these unpleasant scenes, soon we will be putting up a page of useful Japanese where you can download and printout before traveling outside Tokyo so that you could read out or simply show them.
Finally, on our site, we introduce areas, spots and things that we personally recommend. For this reason, you may not find areas, spots and things that are famous on our site.