Route 148 links Hakuba Valley with the Japan Sea. By car the trip takes about an hour, and right in the middle is the Otari Michi-no-Eki or “Road Station”. And while most municipalities in Japan have this type of facility. Otari’s is one of the best you will find.
The Road Station has a restaurant, a shop and a hot spring, as well as public toilet facilities.
The restaurant is called Oni no Kuriya, or the “Devils Kitchen”, and features Kamado Rice as it’s signature dish. Kamado rice cooked over a traditional Japanese cooking fire. The restaurant also sources local and seasonal ingredients including wild vegetables, wild boar, soba, and rice.
The daily special is the Kamado rice set, which has all you can eat Kamado rice along with the dish of the day. Free pickles are also on hand, and a choice of local pork soup or more traditional miso soup with your meal.
If you don’t have time for the full Lunch then Soba Noodles and Ramen are also available as quick snacks.
After eating (of before if you like), try out the Miyama-no-Yu Hot Spring, which has a wide range of spas to soak in. They range in temperature from ice cold , thru lukewarm, to piping hot. There is even an outdoor bath and sauna to use also. The outdoor bath is great in all seasons, from the blooms of spring, to the autumn colors and deep in snow in winter.
The entrance fee is 660yen per person (half price for kids), but if you have a meal at the restaurant before entering (spend more than 500yen) then the entrance fee is halved.
However the real pride of this facility has to be the on-site shop. It is built using old timber from traditional houses in the local area. Stepping inside you are taken back hundreds of years. Many of the walls are clay. Unlike many other michi-no-eki, this place sells all sorts of weird and wild stuff. Sure you can get your cookies and key rings, but you can also buy unique items you will not see anywhere else. Items that spring to mind are the local Kotani Ham on the bone, Local Artwork, and also locally tanned Bear Hides. Oh, and pick up a bottle of locally brewed Sake to take home.
And you may be wondering, why the steel dinosaur in the park area. Well, back in 1994, some fossils were located in the area around the facility. These fossils date back to the early Jurassic period (about 200 million years ago), and are thought to be from a small theropod. A certain times some of these fossils are displayed at the facility (ask at reception)
Most Michi-no-Eki are a place to a pass through, grab a snack, and use the bathroom. Otari Road Station is a destination in itself, and you can easily spend a few hours here.
|Website||https://www.michinoeki-otari.com/ (Japanese Only)|
|Opening Hours||Shop: 10:00 – 18:00|
Hot Spring: 11:00 – 18:00
Restaurant: 11:00 – 18:00
|Closed||Generally closed on Wednesdays but check website for latest details|
|Car Parking||Loads of free car parking|
|Access||There are no buses from Hakuba, but you can take the JR Oito Line from Hakuba Station to Kita Otari Station and walk (less than 10 minutes)|
note. Check train times as trains are not that frequent on this line, and you will need to change at Minami Otari Station.