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Enjoy The Service Areas On Japan's Expressways

Enjoy The Service Areas On Japan's Expressways

Translated by MATCHA-PR

Written by MATCHA-PR

2016.07.16 Bookmark

This article introduces the features of the service areas (SA) and parking areas (PA) on the Japanese expressways. Visitors can buy souvenirs and enjoy good meals, so they are worth checking out!

The rest stops along the Japanese expressways are called Service Areas (SA) or Parking Areas (PA), and visitors can buy here souvenirs or enjoy dishes made from local ingredients.

Some SAs and PAs offer special services to visitors from abroad, such as a tax-free counter. The following article describes how to use the SAs and PAs.

Read also: Sightsee On The Way - Rest Stops Between Tokyo And Karuizawa

SA and PA: Making Your Car Trip Easier

SA and PA offer various services to make your car trip easier and more enjoyable. Here are some examples.

After Buying Souvenirs, Head for the Tax-Free Counter

The tax-free counter at Miyoshi Downline PA, Kan-Etsu Expressway

Some SAs and PAs have tax-free counters in the souvenir shops, and the formalities can be taken care of at the site.

Look for this tax-free sign.

With a one-time purchase of more than 5,400 yen including tax, tourists can apply for tax exemption, and the formalities can be taken care of at the shopping site.

Taste the Local Dishes Without Getting off the Expressway

The SAs and PAs offer a wide variety of dishes made with local ingredients. It is very convenient for the drivers as they can still enjoy delicious meals along while taking the expressway to their destinations.

Customers can choose from food courts where they can relax and enjoy their meals, or takeout stores where they can buy meals to go.

The espresso-flavored soft cream, sold at the Ranzan Upline PA of Kan-etsu Expressway, located at Saitama Prefecture

Some dishes are only available at specific SAs and PAs. Each site has their own dishes lined up, so it might be fun to try and visit as many areas as you can.

Gathering Information


Some of the SAs and PAs have an information counter, where visitors can gather information about the traffic on the expressways, sightseeing in the nearby areas and the available facilities at each site.

The counter is equipped with English, Chinese (Simplified) and Korean pamphlets, so this is the place to get the right information for traffic and sightseeing.

Using a Rental Car

Nippon Rent-A-Car TX Asakusa Office

To enjoy the Japanese expressways, using a rental car is recommended. Look for the rental car companies with offices at the airports and large sightseeing areas, such as the Nippon Rent-A-Car.

The rates differ according to the rental time and the car category, and there are various services, varying from a minimum rental of six hours to a few days. For specific information about using a rental car, take a look at Nippon Rent-A-Car's Official Site.

A Visit to the SAs and PAs

Let's take the expressway, and visit the SAs and PAs.

Going Through the Tollgate


There are tollgates at both the entrance and exit of the expressways.

At the entrance, go to the green-colored general lane, and get the ticket from the machine. Please note that a special card is required for the purple-colored ETC lane. The ticket will be required later at the exit, so don't lose it.

Move to the Left Lane When You See This Sign

Green-colored direction signs are set up along the expressways. The sign with a "P" shows the way to the SAs and PAs.

When you see this sign, move to the left lane, and merge with the cars entering the SAs and PAs.

"Pasar Miyoshi," a facility located at the Upline PA

Park the car, and have a meal or buy souvenirs.

Payment at the Exit

After the rest, let's head for our destination.

Move to the left hand lane to get off at the exit closest to your destination, and merge with the exiting cars. When going through the tollgates, use the general lanes.

Show the ticket from the expressway entrance, and the charge will be settled according to the traveled distance. The payment can be made in cash or major credit cards, such as VISA and MasterCard, so travelers who don't carry much cash need not to worry.

To use the ETC lane, try Nippon Rent-A-Car's ETC card rental service. A car equipped with an ETC card can use the exclusive lanes and go through the tollgates without having to stop. For more information, take a look at their English website.

SAs and PAs offer a wide variety of services for visitors from abroad. So how about renting a car and enjoy what the rest areas have to offer?

Read also: Sightsee On The Way - Rest Stops Between Tokyo and Karuizawa

The information presented in this article is based on the time it was written. Note that there may be changes in the merchandise, services, and prices that have occurred after this article was published. Please contact the facility or facilities in this article directly before visiting.

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