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Goin’ Japanesque!

Melody Roads (Japan Travel): Highways That Play Music

Have you heard of Melody Roads? It seems there are some outside of Japan, too, but it was a Japanese company that first came up with it. But what’s the real aim behind these harmonious Melody Roads?


What are Melody Roads?

They’re highways that are designed so that the friction from car tires will play music. There are several millimeters of grooves on the road surface with the depth and spacing of the grooves controlling the volume and sound. By going a set speed, you’ll make a perfect tempo to hear.


Effects of Melody Roads

  • Speed control: Drivers who want to hear the melody will follow the speed limit (the speed needed for the melody), which decreases the number of car accidents.
  • Prevents sleeping at the wheel: The melody alerts drivers and wakes them up.
  • Prevents Hydroplaning: Rain water drains quicker since the grooves go all the way to the end of the highway.
  • Regional Revitalization: Improves tourism by selecting songs connected to each region.

Melody roads weren’t just created for pleasure; they were actually developed with foresight into their practical applications.


Regional Songs

1. Shiretoko Ryojo (知床旅情)

Location: Shibetsu Chodo Kawakita Kita 7 Sen, Shibetsu, Shibetsu, Hokkaido
First Melody Road in the world.

2. Country Road (Studio Ghibli’s Whispers of the Heart)

Location: National Route 252, Kaneyama, Onuma, Fukushima


3. Itsumo Nandodemo (Spirited Away)

Location: National Route 353, Nakanojo, Agatsuma, Gunma


Related: Dogo Onsen: Three Millennia of Japanese Hot Spring History

4. Fuji no Yama

Location: Fuji-Subaru Line (No toll section), Fujikawaguchi-ko, Minamitsuru, Yamanashi

Related: Weekend Mountaineer in Mount Fuji: Aiming for the Summit for a View of the Sunrise

5. Fuji no Yama, A Cruel Angel’s Thesis (Neon Genesis Evangelion)

Location: Ashinoko Skyline, Susuno, Shizuoka


Related: The Evangelion Bullet Train is Open for Business

6. Sanpo (My Neighbor Totoro)

Location: Sera, Sera, Hiroshima



A unique characteristic of the human mind is that it’ll recognize and better hear a song you’ve heard before. For that reason, we picked Ghibli and other works that are globally known but there are many, many more roads all over Japan that play music. Gunma Prefecture especially has a lot. Go for a drive and check them out!

But don’t forget that for a visitor to drive in Japan you’ll need a Japanese driver’s license or an international driver’s license.

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