Oya History Museum

A museum where history is set in stone

Located on the outskirts of Utsunomiya, the Oya Stone Mine was once a major source of wealth for the area. Though long defunct, parts of the mine have been transformed into the Oya History Museum, an underground realm that offers a one-of-a-kind exploration.

Don’t miss
The mine’s mysterious dream-like caverns
Nearby Oyaji Temple, carved out of a cliff face

How to Get There
Buses run to the Oya History Museum from Utsunomiya Station. From the west side of Utsunomiya Station, take the bus at stop six heading for Oya/Tateiwa. The ride will take about 30 minutes. Get off at the Shiryokaniriguchi stop; the museum is a three-minute walk.

A rock for the ages

The Oya stone is a unique type of stone that has played a significant role in japan‘s history. Created from lava and ash, igneous Oya stone is easily carvable, resistant to erosion, and has been used in Japan since the 17th century for various purposes. From tombs to paving stones to Tokyo’s Imperial Hotel, the Oya stone has left its mark on the country’s architectural landscape. However, its use declined dramatically with the spread of concrete.

The Oya History Museum opened in 1979, giving the quarries a new direction. The last mines closed in 1986, but the museum continues to thrive as one of Utsunomiya’s most popular destinations. A small building houses Oya stone-related exhibits, but the real draw is the massive underground network of caverns with more than 20,000 square meters of open space. Exhibits along the walls explain local geology and the history and methods of Oya quarrying.

Not your ordinary mine

Walking underground through such open spaces is a rare experience. The Oya History Museum has taken advantage of this unique environment by displaying artwork throughout the mine. Many of the rooms are illuminated with various colors, creating a sometimes surreal atmosphere. The caverns have also been transformed into event spaces, hosting weddings, concerts, and becoming popular as sets for music videos, commercials, and films.

Exploring the museum takes about two hours, and deep underground, the air is cool, even during summer, so visitors are advised to have something warm to wear. After the underground adventure, visitors can visit the Rockside Market outside the museum, which has a café with tasty ice cream and a gift shop.

Nearby Oyaji Temple is also worth a visit. Over 1,200 years old, the temple is built into a towering section of exposed Oya stone. It is dedicated to Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy. A visit to the temple offers a rare glimpse at some of Japan’s oldest Buddhist carvings. Visitors can also admire the colossal statue of Kannon across the street from the temple, which was carved as a monument to peace after WWII.

In conclusion, the Oya History Museum in Utsunomiya offers a unique and immersive experience for visitors. The underground caverns, carved out of the Oya stone mine, provide a glimpse into the history and geology of the region. The museum’s exhibits and artwork showcase the versatility and beauty of the Oya stone. Visitors can also explore the nearby Oyaji Temple, which adds to the historical and cultural significance of the area. Whether you are interested in history, architecture, or simply looking for a one-of-a-kind experience, the Oya History Museum is a must-visit destination.

Address And Maps Location:

909 Oyamachi, Utsunomiya-shi, Tochigi-ken

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