Along Japan’s major routes, a system of michi no eki, or roadside stations, provides places for travelers to rest. With about 1000 or so of these locations all over Japan, travelers are sure to find one on their routes. Southern Chiba Prefecture has about a dozen of these stops on major roads and near train stations. They’re more than just a place to take a break from your trip. They’re destinations in themselves. Biwa Club in Minamiboso City is the longest-established in the prefecture and is an ideal spot to stop, sample local produce, and learn about the southern region of the Boso Peninsula.
This michi no eki gets its name from the biwa, or loquat, which is widely grown in the surrounding Tomiura area. Biwa Club, Chiba Prefecture’s first michi no eki opened in 1993 as a community space that invites people to gather. Biwa Club has a spacious lounge with comfortable seating and a patio overlooking the garden which blooms all year in the mild climate. Around the lounge are displays of local artisans’ works, periodic art exhibitions, and a video display of local attractions. Here you can take your time to connect with local culture, browse maps and brochures, and even book experiences making local handicrafts.
When you visit in May and June, you can feast on the fresh loquat fruit which the michi no eki celebrates, and the staff can direct you to loquat orchards to pick your own. Even if you miss the loquat picking season, you can still stock up on fruit juice, preserves, and sweets made of the local produce at the onsite shop.
The two cafes within the building serve an array of biwa-flavored drinks and even savory dishes. The cafe restaurant’s specialty is subtly sweet and aromatic curry rice made with biwa fruit puree. To finish your meal, you have to have biwa soft serve ice cream.
The michi no eki provides facilities for just all kinds of travelers with a baby room, bicycle parking, an electric vehicle station, and a terrace that welcomes dog companions.