Yorii Little Prince Parking area, Kanetsu Expressway, Japan. Jump to “Driving in Japan” information.
From yesterday’s very Japanese parking area in Hanyu to today’s quintessentially not Japanese parking area in Yorii. Yorii Little Prince parking area may not be a timeslip like Onihei Edo Dokoro parking area in Hanyu, but it is also an atypical parking area with lots of charm of its own. And both can boast the proud claim of “only in Saitama” themed parking areas.
Little Prince is also known as Le Petit Prince and Little Prince Star.
Little Prince themed parking area
If you are looking for somewhere to briefly stop on the Kanetsu Expressway to break up a road trip the Le Petit Prince parking area is a good choice. You pass this rest area if you are heading in to Tokyo. Whether you are returning from a day trip or travelling to Tokyo from Niigata or Gunma you will pass the Le Petit Prince service area as you come into Saitama on the Kanetsu expressway.
The Yorii Little Prince parking / service area on the Kanetsu Expressway is named after the character in the famous French novels of the same name. Like Onihei parking area on the Tohoku expressway that I introduced yesterday, Yorii Little Prince parking area is themed on the central character. And this is reflected in both the design and the produce. The Little Prince is not particularly well known or loved in Japan, but he does have a fanbase here. Accordingly, there are a handful of Little Prince themed facilities dotted around the country.
The parking area is quite small, but it is very picturesque. To me the appearance is more Spanish than French, but they succeeded in conjuring a Europe feel with the facade. There are Little Prince motifs and props throughout the parking area. The cafe and restaurant are also designed in mediterranean style. And much of the produce keeps with the European theme. Their number one selling souvenir is Little Star cookies in star shaped packaging.
Driving in Japan
Planning a trip to Japan from overseas? Living in Tokyo and thinking of renting a car for a trip or drive? Here are some things to consider and useful information for driving in Japan.
Driver’s License / Driving Permit
Whether you are travelling to or living in Japan you will need a valid drivers license to rent a car and / or drive in Japan. For visitors from overseas you will need to have a valid driver’s license. For people living in Japan, if you didn’t get your license in Japan, you will need to convert your current license to a Japanese license.
Plaza Homes has excellent information for both long term residents in Japan and short term visitors. Everything you need to know about driver licenses / permits to legally drive in Japan here.
Rules of the Road
The rules of the road are very comprehensive and for the most part similar to many other countries. But there are some noticeable and important differences. For one, when you turning a corner on a green light more often than not pedestrians also have a green light to cross. And they have right of way.
You can buy an English copy of the rules of the road from JAF (Japan Automobile Federation). They also have several other languages available. They have digital and printed formats available. Link to the JAF Rules of the Road handbooks here. A very basic guideline is also available on the Plaza Homes website here.
Nexco Expressway (Highway / Motorway)
The expressway (highway / motorway / freeway in Japan are managed by NEXCO. NEXCO has many sub branches, some of which have their own English pages. Nexco Central tends to have the most generic information covering everything from safety, congestion, rest areas and even trip guides. But for more detailed information on rest areas, also known as parking or service areas, the drive plaza suite is useful too.
The most important thing to note about the expressway in Japan – other than safety! – is the ETC system for the toll booths. You can pay in cash at the vast majority of toll booths, but please note that there are a few “smart” toll booths that can only be used if you have a valid ETC card. Information on the ETC card system in Japan here.
The Kanetsu Expressway links Tokyo to Niigata through Saitama and Gunma. If you find yourself on the Kanetsu Expressway heading to Tokyo from either Gunma or Niigata, keep an eye out for this unique parking area. It is after the Honjo Kodama Interchange. There is a warm feel about the place and even in the rain it brought a bit of sunshine to a long journey! Although it is small, it has all the necessary facilities to break up a road trip such as toilets, vending machines, a restaurant, cafe, kiosk, a smoking area and even a little patch of green.
Yorii is the name of a city in Northern Saitama. However, the parking area isn’t actually in Yorii officially! This is one of an alarming number of places in Japan that is named for being in an area that it isn’t actually in. The Yorii Little Prince Parking area is in fact in Fukaya. The most famous examples of places in Japan that put a city they are not actually in in their title is Tokyo Narita airport which is in fact in Chiba and Tokyo Disney Resort which is also in Chiba!
If you want to stop somewhere really unique the Little Prince, or Le Petit Prince, parking area in Saitama is a themed service area. Although small it is something different from the norm.
Yes. In Hakone there is the Little Prince Museum. Tomikanosumika in Gotemba has Little Prince theme rooms. And in Saitama, on the Kanetsu Expressway there is a Little Prince service / parking area. You can buy exclusive Little Prince Star merchandise in the shopping area there.
Kanetsu Little Prince PA Information
Yorii Little Prince Star Parking Area Kanetsu expressway (Inbound)
Hours: Facilities (toilets, vending machines) are available 24 hours, but the restaurant and shopping corner closes at 9 pm. The bakery, cafe and chicken shop close at 8 pm.
Address: 3064-4 本郷北坂 Fukaya-shi, Saitama-ken 369-0214
Plus code: 55FV+R9 Fukaya, Saitama Prefecture
Official Website: Drive Plaza, Japanese language only
Access: 6.2 kilometres after Honjo Kodama Interchange on the Kanetsu Expressway
Parking: for 47 large vehicles and 76 for cars. Three car spaces available for people with lower mobility or disabilities.
E-nexco wifi available.
Toilet with facilities for people with lower mobility or in a wheelchair.
Previous parking area is Kamisato Parking area. And the one after is Ranzan parking area.
Other “Only in Saitama” locations on this blog:
- Onihei Edo Dokoro Parking Area, Hanyu
- The Totoro Forest in Sayama Hills, Tokorozawa
- Kurosuke House, Tokorozawa
- Chukaman Museum, Iruma
You can also use the “Only in Saitama” tag to find even more unique locations in Saitama.