unit 01

Many Japanese service areas along major highways are well-stocked with (surprisingly) decent food courts and souvenir stands chock-full of local specialties. Some of them even take it to the next level and incorporate themes into their layouts, such as the Edo Period townscape service area in Saitama Prefecture.

One such stop, the EXPASA Ashigara Service Area located in Shizuoka Prefecture, is currently in the midst of a collaboration with the Neon Genesis Evangelion franchise—and according to travelers who have already stopped by, they’ve spared no expense for this mind-blowing project.  

The EXPASA Ashigara Service Area along the down line of the Tomei Expressway (which connects Tokyo to Nagoya) is currently collaborating with Neon Genesis Evangelion in celebration of the TV anime series’ 20th anniversary this year. From July 17 until December 23, visitors to the rest stop can immerse themselves in a variety of Evangelion-themed displays, foods, and goodies.

Ashigara is a perfect choice for this particular collaboration since the setting of Evangelion‘s Tokyo-3 is in the nearby real-life town of Hakone, Japan, which has also seen its share of collaborative events in the past. However, both people who had known about Ashigara Service Area’s recent redesign and those who hadn’t were completely stunned by the scale of the project when they stopped by:

“At the most, I thought there would be some 3-D figures and panels, but I was totally wrong. Even the entrance was painted in Eva colors. You’d better get pumped!”

“It’s like you’re really in Tokyo-3. Ashigara Service Area is located on a mountain, and when you step outside you can even hear the chorus of cicadas that’s always present in the show. Going at twilight would probably be perfect.”

Let’s take a look at some of the visuals of the place collected from around the net. For the sake of space, Twitter collages have been left as is, but you can enlarge each picture by simply clicking on it.

Here are some scenes from outside the Ashigara Service Area entrance, including models of Rei Ayanami, Eva Unit 01, and the Spear of Longinus, along with an itasha car:

ひょえー!かっこよ!!

A post shared by なつみ (@ntm_427) on

Here’s the exterior of the building itself, which was remodeled into the NERV headquarters:

Some of the sights inside the building include the largest model of Eva Unit 01 in the world at six meters (19.7 feet)!

The second floor houses an outdoor mural of all the Evangelion characters where you can take commemorative pictures with friends:

▼ A plaque for the junior high school where Shinji and the others go to school

The service area is also a food lover’s paradise, boasting over 30 special Evangelion menu items. Can you spot the Eva influence in the following meals?

▼ Shin-chan’s bento, with miso soup

Finally, don’t forget to take home one of over 400 Evangelion goods from the temporary souvenir shop:

足柄SAのおみやげにいただきました。ありがとうございますっ! #evangelion

A post shared by Nao Maruyama (@naom44) on

Even non-Evangelion enthusiasts are sure to be blown away by the degree to which the staff involved truly went all-out to make the collaboration with Ashigara Service Area as memorable as possible. The entire spectacle will be around until late December, so make your travel plans accordingly!

Source: Naver Matome
Featured image: Instagram/ntm0427 (edited by RocketNews24)