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The Umihotaru rest stop along the Tokyo Bay Aqua Line Toll Road is much more of an exciting experience than your typical pit stop on long drives. It’s equipped with lots of dining options from restaurants and a food court, to a FamilyMart and Starbucks. There’s even a big game center and many gift shops within the five story complex. Best of all, you get a 360 degree view of Tokyo Bay from the upper deck. In the distance, three prefectures, Tokyo, Kanagawa, and Chiba, can all be seen with visible landmarks such as the Tokyo Skytree. The Umihotaru, shaped like a big ship itself, is a great leisure stop to feel the sea breeze and look out as real boats pass by. You may even be baffled by the fact that your car just drove under this big body of water, as the Aqua Liner is a highway that literally runs through the bay’s water (crazy!).
My friends and I stopped here for lunch on our way to camping in Chiba. Because it was a sunny Saturday afternoon, the cars waiting to park were pretty backed up. The lines twirled around the highway exit just waiting to get off the road and into a parking spot at Umihotaru. Luckily for us, the six-person camper van (RV) we were driving was big enough to be considered a truck. So we passed by all the weekend goers with ease and parked among the tour buses and factory trucks within minutes.
Taking escalator after escalator to the top deck, we were lost in conversation and didn’t expect what was coming: a breathtaking view of the calm bay waters with land surrounding all sides of us, far far away. Standing by the rails and admiring the concrete jungle in the distance, the Umihotaru makes you feel like a sailor out at sea.
With six of us all wanting different meals for lunch, the food court provided us with a variety of options while still being able to dine together. The bay is famous for its clams, asari (あさり), so don’t miss out on the opportunity to try ramen, a rice bowl, steam buns, or croquette with some stuffed inside. I went for the famous Chi-ba don (ちーば丼) which has a greedy amount of mouthwatering seafood on top of rice. The ¥1,250 may seem a little steep, but considering that it comes with normally pricey anago (cooked eel with eel sauce), seared fish, tempura, and clams among a few other toppings, it’s a meal that’s well worth it.
After our bellies were full and content, we walked up and down, over and around the breezy deck to relax a bit more before making our move for the next stop. Though we didn’t explore much further, Umihotaru also offers a museum, massage clinic, foot bath, childcare center, photobooth, and even a unique time capsule mailbox. Be sure to stop by the information desk for help and brochures about activities and travel around the different destinations many head to after this pit stop! They are also helpful in English, too.
Check out my other articles if you want to read about the rest of this weekend!
Umihotaru cannot be accessed by train, like most other parts of Kanto. Please come by car or take a transit bus to and from Kawasaki or Kisarazu.
While the Umihotaru itself is open 24 hours, the dining facilities and information counter all close between 7pm and 10pm so be sure to check their hours online.
For more information and floor guides, visit the Umihotaru website.
|Address||Nakajimachisaki Umihotaru, Kisarazu 292-0071, Chiba Prefecture|
|Access||[map]Nakajimachisaki Umihotaru, Kisarazu 292-0071, Chiba Prefecture[/map]|
|Opening Hours||open 24 hours|