On the weekends I like to go on trips with my family, most often to an onsen (volcanic hot springs) somewhere in the mountains around us. When I ask my wife where she’d like to have lunch, more often than not she’ll say, “Let’s just eat at a Parking Area.” Japanese freeways are a little different from what you might be used to in your home country: they’re far from “free,” costing $25 each way for us to drive 100 km into Tokyo, or around $10 for a day trip somewhere nearby. Inside the freeway system are convenient rest stops known as “Parking Areas” (P.A.) where you can get cheap udon noodles, buy some souvenirs for your family and enjoy a complimentary cup of green tea from a vending machine. Some Parking Areas are quite famous, and true to form, there are “parking area otaku” in Japan to take joy in visiting that special highway rest stop in an obscure corner of the country. The “king” of Parking Areas in Japan — the Par-KING, if you’ll allow me to make a small dajare pun — is Daikoku Futo Parking Area in Yokohama, a sprawling rest stop that’s become the place to go to show off your tricked out sports car or itasha. If you’re ever in the city, try to plan a visit on a Saturday night, as it’s one of the more unique sights to see.
The “King” of Parking Areas in Japan, Daikoku Futoin Yokohama.