JDM Nightlife: this is Heiwajima PA

One of the great things about living in Japan, and in particular Tokyo, is the nightlife. There are always things to do with world-class restaurants to dine at and amazing clubs and bars to visit with your friends. For some however, the idea of a fun night out with friends has a different meaning.

JDM fans around the world will no doubt see Daikoku Futo PA as one of the must-visit spots when visiting Japan. Not known to many abroad however, is Heiwajima PA.

Since 2020, the authorities here have been further clamping down on street racing by deciding to close the popular PA’s on the Shuto Expressway at 8pm. Fortunately, there are 2 spots that are never closed and the go-to location for a get-together when the others are no longer accessible.

Situated in Ota-ward and close to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, Heiwajima PA (the inbound one) is a driver’s rest spot elevated over Shutoku Expressway heading into Tokyo from Yokohama. It is fairly small compared to Daikoku PA and consists of just over 60 parking spots – Daikoku PA for example has 340.

The Shutoku Expressway system consists of 21 parking areas (PA). Most are generally quite small in size compared to the ones found on major highways leading out of Tokyo. Many serve as a quick stop for drivers to grab a rest, a drink or simply as a toilet stop.

Due to its ease of use, cost, and design which allows users to loop Tokyo without additional toll charges, this highway is commonly used for street racing. Some also take the opportunity to work on their cars.

A sight that would ordinarily worry drivers in the US or Australia, the Japanese police will occasionally turn up with lights flashing.

Despite many of the vehicles clearly being unroadworthy, they will almost never get out to inspect a vehicle. The main concern here is to ensure drivers are not taking up any of the parking spots allocated for trucks. One will simply need to move along and keep looping the tiny PA until the police vehicle moves on.

Similar to the other PA’s on Shutoku, Heiwajima PA also has its own unique vibe. Due to its location and elevation, the spot is usually quiet and quite relaxing. It is a great place to meet up and chill on a Friday or Saturday night with your friends after a long work week.

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