Ibaraki Road Trip: A Look At The Moriya and Tomobe Service Areas is a photo diary of our visit to see the in-laws in Ibaraki Prefecture over the Obon holidays.
Whenever we visit, we travel by car along the Joban Expressway, the toll road connecting Ibaraki, Iwate and Fukushima Prefectures with Tokyo.
The highlight of these road trips are always when we stop at the Tomobe and Moriya Service Areas*. The service areas are way more than just being a place where you stop to fill up the gas tank and rest weary eyes.
*Japanese Service Areas are marked by 上 and 下 referring to traffic heading to Tokyo (上, agari) and traffic leaving Tokyo (下, kudari).
A few years ago, the Tomobe and Moriya Service Areas were renovated and turned into shopping mall-like attractions that showcase the best of Ibaraki’s local gourmet, a genre of food known as gotouchi gurume (ご当地グルメ).
Ibaraki is famous for natto (納豆, fermented soybeans), soy sauce (醤油 | shouyuu) chestnuts (栗 | kuri), melons (メロン | meron), dried sweet potato (干し芋 | hoshi imo), Hitachi beef (常陸牛 | hitachi gyuu) and Hitachi soba (常陸そば). Many of the shops inside the service areas feature these ingredients!
Pasar Moriya Service Area
Pasar Tomobe Service Area
Bonus: A Taste Of Ibaraki (ご当地グルメ)
Do you like to take road trips?