Foodie Adventures Travel Diaries

Ibaraki Road Trip: A Look At The Moriya and Tomobe Service Areas

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).

READ: How To Travel In Japan Without Speaking Japanese

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 

How cute is Moriken, the mascot of Moriya Shrine?

Pasar Tomobe Service Area 

Bonus: A Taste Of Ibaraki (ご当地グルメ)

Produce stand at Moriya SA

Melons (メロン) are a summer delicacy in Ibaraki

Hitachi (常陸) Soba, named after the name of the feudal kingdom which is now modern-day Ibaraki and Iwate Prefectures

Natto (納豆), fermented soybeans. Ibaraki is the no. 2 producer of natto.

Even more natto…

Hoshi imo (干し芋), dried sweet potato. A wonderfully chewy snack that keeps you reaching for more. Ibaraki is famous for its hoshi imo and we get it by the boxful every fall.

Do you like to take road trips?

Ibaraki Road Trip: A Look At The Moriya and Tomobe Service Areas

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