A roadside station (Michi-no-Eki in Japanese) is a large rest area for those driving in Japan. It is located along major roads and highways, with 24-hour access to restrooms and parking facilities. Many are set up to promote local tourism and consist of souvenir shops, restaurants, regional tourist information centers, history museums and even supermarkets. Several hundred million people visit these stations each year, and some even have onsen, or hot springs. Japan has had a long history of hospitality, starting with the ancient post towns that provided pilgrims and samurai travelling by foot or horseback, which were made famous in the series "The 53 Stations of the Tokaido".
Yubari is widely known throughout the world for her melons. However, there is only one roadside station in this town. Located along National Road 274, Road Station Yubari Meroad was more like a museum. There were many exhibits detailing Yubari's history, from what was once a bustling coal mining town in the 1960's to the production of the world's famous melon produce.
As with many tourist places in Japan, there is a shop selling ice cream. What flavor can you expect other than the Yubari melon? As expected, almost everything at this road station is associated with the famous melon. Maybe I have yet to visit many road stations, but what surprised me was that there was a supermarket. It was not very big, about three times the size of a regular convenience store. It was the usual supermarket goods of snacks, drinks, biscuits, tea and coffee powder, sushi, and so on. Of course, there was a dedicated section of Yubari melon products and souvenirs, melon jelly, melon caramel sweets, melon biscuits, melon pies, and the list goes on. Fresh vegetables from the town were also on sale.
Next to the entrance of the building, there is a bread shop. There was this special bread in the shape of a melon, which is only available on weekends and public holidays. It is only sold at this road station and nowhere else in Japan, and they limit each customer to only one purchase of this unique bread. Certainly a must try item. The cute bread even had a stem on top, very much resembling the Yubari melon they sell in the shops.
I left too early, at 10:30 am on a Sunday morning. From the outside you can see a cake shop, freshly cut melons, Hokkaido's famous corn, curry rice, and more, which I missed them all. Mascots are scheduled to make an appearance as well, so do remember to check the schedule in advance for a fun day out.