Some special parking areas in Japan have more thrills to offer than luxury high-tech toilets.  

Our reporter Mr Sato tries a lot of things we would never dare to try, with all-you-can-eat raw eggs being one of them. However, there is one thing our gallant reporter doesn’t like, and that’s heights, although strangely, he doesn’t mind Ferris wheels for some reason.

So when he was travelling on the highway in Aichi Prefecture and pulled in for a break at the Kariya Highway Oasis parking area recently, he decided to try something that had always interested him — a ride on the giant Ferris wheel.

It’s not every day you come across a Ferris wheel at a highway parking area, but the Kariya Highway Oasis is famous for it. This vast site includes a parking lot, gas station, park, restrooms, amusement park, and hot spring facilities, making it more like a tourist destination than a highway rest stop.

With our boss Yoshio as his travelling companion, Mr Sato headed over to the Ferris wheel, and as he got closer, its giant size became more apparent.

When he arrived at the base of the Ferris wheel, he began to feel nervous as he discovered there were 36 gondolas in total, and the structure was 60 meters (197 feet) high.

▼ Looking up at it from this angle was slightly terrifying.

With Yoshio by his side, Mr Sato felt confident he would be able to handle the ride, so he purchased two adult tickets from the ticket vending machine. Tickets were priced at 600 yen (US$4.02) each for people aged three and over, with discounts for multi-person tickets — a three-person ticket costs 1,600 yen, and a four-person ticket costs 2,100 yen.

▼ “My name is Mr Sato and this is me before the Ferris wheel ride.”

Much to Mr Sato’s surprise, four of the 36 gondolas are see-through so you can see directly below. This made our reporter incredibly nervous, as it seemed to be a nightmare scenario for height-averse people like himself.

However, since taking up pole dancing, Mr Sato has been working on overcoming his personal fears, so as the gondola began to move, he resisted the urge to grab onto Yoshio’s arm for dear life, turning his nerves into excitement instead.

He still wasn’t game enough to look down too much, though, so he kept his eyes straight ahead and slapped a smile on his face to keep from freaking out.

▼ “My name is Mr Sato and this is me during the Ferris wheel ride.”

Yoshio’s fearless attitude and childlike glee at the experience helped Mr Sato remain calm, and they quickly realised that taking photos inside the see-through structure made it look as if Mr Sato was floating. After snapping some photos, their attention turned to the view outside, where they could get a sense of just how enormous this parking area was, with five parking lots in total, some of which were on the local road side, so even non-highway drivers could visit.

With a merry-go-round, go-karts, and mini trains on the site, as well as a large public bathing facility, this spot really is a highway oasis for adults and children alike.

▼ One lap of the Ferris Wheel takes around 12 minutes, and this was the view from the highest point.

The 12 minutes went by quicker than expected, and before they knew it, they were back on solid ground. That was where Mr Sato was able to try another on-site perk — the deluxe toilets.

▼ “My name is Mr Sato and this is me after the Ferris wheel ride.”

There are two restrooms for women and one for men, and while they’re some of the best restrooms you’ll find on a highway in Japan, they even have higher-quality “VIP rooms” available, so they’re well worth stopping at.

The park itself is illuminated at night, making the view from the Ferris wheel — and its see-through gondolas — even more spectacular. Who knew a stop on a highway could be so entertaining? It’s all part of Japan’s dedication to customer service, which pays attention to every little detail everywhere you go, from the high-tech toilets right through to the angled parking.

And if you’re looking for more exciting places to stop while driving, this parking area will make you feel like a samurai with its Edo-style buildings.

Location information

Kariya Highway Oasis / 刈谷ハイウェイオアシス
Address: Aichi-ken, Kariya-shi, Higashisakai-cho, Yoshino 55
Open: Ferris wheel 10:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m. (last entry 9:45 p.m.)

Related: Kariya Highway Oasis , Ferris wheel
Photos ©SoraNews24
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