Exploring Japan by car can be uniquely rewarding. Beyond the ability to soak in the picturesque vistas on your own time, there are other experiences to be had. So whether you’re a passenger or a driver, if you’re traveling by car, be prepared for some random encounters — some exclusively Japanese — to liven up and surprise you and your travel companions on the trip.
1. Melody roads
Goofy for some — incredibly thoughtful to others — are Japan’s “melody roads,” where you can quite literally drive your car over a patch of road to create music.
Reminiscent of old vinyl records, grooves are cut into highways and byways at specific intervals to create sound vibrations when they are driven over. Between 250 to 500 meters in length, the series of furrows in these roads are constructed with carefully calculated depth and spacing so that they generate a rhythm and hum that is uncannily distinct and recognizable.
Known as “Asphaltophone” in Denmark and “Singing Highways” in the Netherlands, these are not something unique to Japan, but it’s here that you can find them in abundance. There are over 30 musical roads scattered across Japan, from Hokkaido to Okinawa. The tunes pressed into the asphalt range from cultural folk songs specific to the region such as “Futami Jowa” in Okinawa to popular tunes from "Spirited Away" in Gunma, "Evangelion" in Hakone and "My Neighbor Totoro" in Hiroshima.
Found mostly in the countryside to promote tourism and regional revitalization, authorities feel they also serve the purpose of speed control and definitely prevent dozing off at the wheel.
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