Oya is a small municipality in the Tochigi Prefecture, lying north of the Kanto Region. While the town itself isn’t that popular in the international tourism, it does hold something which very unique to itself. Underneath the town is a reserve of over 600 million tons of what is known as Oya-ishi or Oya stone, an igneous rock which has been the foundation and walls of a number of important buildings and landmarks.
Oya stones are easy to carve yet very resistant to erosion. They are light, but durable. With these qualities, there have been a demand of them in building construction for several centuries. Ancient quarrying sites that mined these porous stones can be found in the town up to this day. Although many of them were already closed, there is one which was reopened and is available to the public.
The Oya Stone Museum is a former mining site that operated for almost 70 years. Now that it was turned into a historical museum, it tells the long history of mining Oya-ishi in more than just pictures and literature. This man-made cavern is one of its kind and has impressed many who have come to visit it.
The Oya Stone Museum is located thirty meters underground. Inside are towering stone walls and columns that dwarfs any of its visitors. Stone bricks cut in geometric shapes that form the stairs and walkways can be found all over the place. It has a very mysterious atmosphere which adds an extra appeal. Some would say that the place is reminiscent of the ancient ruins in Rome or Egypt.
Visitors are often surprised to find the amount of space there is underground. Aside from the very high ceiling, the floor totals to about 20,000 square kilometers – that’s double the size of an average soccer field.
The museum, as it is being a unique, has often been used as film location, venue for concerts, theater, exhibits and different gatherings.
The Oya Stone Museum has an average temperature of less than 20 degrees Celsius even on a hot day. This cool temperature makes it an ideal place to visit during summer.
The town of Oya can be quite distant if coming from Tokyo. But if you are planning to explore the central area of Tochigi Prefecture, then definitely it is one of the top places to visit in combination with Utsunomiya. Foreign tourists who availed a Japan Rail pass can take advantage of the Shinkansen ride going to Utsunomiya.
How to get to Oya Stone Museum
The nearest train station to the Oya Stone Museum is the Utsunomiya Station of the JR Utsunomiya Line. Coming from central Tokyo, travel time could take about 2 hours on an ordinary train (Fare : ~2000 JPY). Tohoku Shinkansen provides a faster (less an hour) travel, but can be bit costly (~5000 JPY).
From Utsunomiya Station, take the Kanto Bus bound for Tateiwa then alight at Shiryokaniriguchi. The museum is around 5 minutes away on foot.
- Adults – 700 JPY
- Kids – 350 JPY
- 9:30 am – 5:00 pm
- Oya Stone Museum official website
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