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Tue, Apr. 25, 2017 Oya, Utsunomiya: Stone Town & Quarry Ruins Tour
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On this edition of Journeys in Japan, we travel to Oya, an old stone town in Utsunomiya City, Tochigi Prefecture. Australian radio DJ Chris Glenn visits an ancient temple carved into a cave and featuring stone Buddhist reliefs. He goes underground into a cavernous former quarry. And in another ruin, he takes an adventure tour of a mystical underground lake. He stops by a stone artisan's workshop as well as a jazz cafe where the owner has created speakers with Oya stone. On this journey, Chris feels the deep connection between the local people and their beautiful stone.

Oya History Museum
Oya History Museum
This museum was founded on the site of a former Oya-ishi stone quarry. The sprawling underground space is 30 meters deep and has an area of 20 thousand square meters-the size of a baseball stadium.

Address: 909 Oya-machi, Utsunomiya City, Tochigi Prefecture
Tel: +81 (0) 28-652-1232
Open: 09:00 – 17:00 (Entry allowed until 16:30)
Closed: December 26 – January 1.
Adventure Tour around the Quarry Ruins,
Adventure Tour around the Quarry Ruins, "Ohya Underground"
This mysterious tour takes visitors around the ruins of a vast underground quarry where accumulated rainwater has even formed a six-meter deep lake.

Enishi Travel
Tel: +81 (0) 28-5689-8782
Fax: +81 (0) 28-665-8678
Open: 10:00 – 18:00
This restaurant, operated by a gyoza association, serves a selection of dumplings from popular local restaurants.
It also operates gyoza-making classes on weekdays. Bookings must be made at least five days in advance and the fee is around 1,500 yen per person.

Address: B1 MEGA Don Quixote Utsunomiya, 2-3-12 Babadori, Utsunomiya City, Tochigi Prefecture
Tel: +81 (0) 28-614-5388
Open: 11:00 – 20:30
Oya-ji Temple
Oya-ji Temple
This Buddhist temple, carved into a cave, houses Japan's oldest Buddha stone reliefs.

Address: 1198 Oya-machi, Utsunomiya City, Tochigi Prefecture
Tel: +81 (0) 28-652-0128
Admission fee: 400 yen per person
Open: 08:30 – 1 7:00 (April – September), 09:00 – 16:30 (October – March) Entry allowed until 16:10.
Closed: 2nd and 4th Thursdays (January – March), December 19 – December 31
Jazz Café NOIR
Jazz Café NOIR
Address: 1-2-1 Higashitomatsuri, Utsunomiya City, Tochigi Prefecture
Tel: +81 (0) 28-612-6733
Open: 11:00 – 22:00
Closed: Thursdays
Matsugamine Catholic Church
Matsugamine Catholic Church
This church was constructed with Oya-ishi stone.

Address: 1-1-5 Matsugamine, Utsunomiya City, Tochigi Prefecture
Open: 08:30 – 20:00 (Time may change depending on the day of the week.)
Utsunomiya is easily accessible from Tokyo.
It's about 50 minutes on the Tohoku Shinkansen bullet train from JR Tokyo Station. It's also the gateway to Nikko. Change at Utsunomiya for the Nikko line.
Travel Log

Traveler: Chris Glenn > More Info


Occupation:Radio DJ, Writer, Historian

Length of residence in Japan:25 years

Reason:Spent a year as a Rotary Exchange Student in Japan in '85, and never got used to living in Australia again, so I came back to closer study samurai history and culture.

Traveler's Archives:

> Pure Himeji Beautiful Castle City, Craftsman Culture

Stone is not something one would normally seek out on a journey in Japan. However, following this particular journey, and through discovering the fascinating history as well as multiple uses of Tochigi Prefecture's characteristic Oya-ishi stone, and meeting the people of the Utsunomiya area, are enough to change your mind.

Be amazed at the depth and scale of the old stone quarries, and unearth their modern-day uses. Marvel at the traditional and exciting modern ways the stone is used, and see the future of Utsunomiya, literally, carved in stone. Once you know what you're looking for, you'll see Oya-ishi in all the right places. We'll also check out the other popular item for which Utsunomiya is famed, and try our hand at making the crowd-pleasing dish too!

You'll be genuinely surprised to discover how something so hard, and cold as Oya-ishi stone can be so soft, warm and beautiful, and so loved by the people of Utsunomiya.

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