While in Japan this summer, my family and I took a visit to the city of Utsunomiya in Tochigi Prefecture further north to visit my wife’s extended family. My kids enjoy playing with their second-cousins (we treat them as regular cousins for all practical purposes) who come from other parts of the world. It’s like a little family reunion.
My wife’s extended family live pretty far out in the outskirts of Utsunomiya, so we get to see a lot of the countryside and Tochigi Prefecture always has something interesting something to see. I’ve posted about past adventures in Utsunomiya here.
Anyhow, this year we took a visit to a famous rock quarry called Ōyashiryōkan (大谷資料館). The official website is here. My wife’s extended family still has memories of this place as children when people still mined the rock there. One uncle remembers being strapped to his mom’s back as a child while his mom (my wife’s grandmother) toiled away in quarry helping the workers there.
The quarry is no longer mined and has since been converted into a museum/concert venue. TV shows are sometimes filmed there too.
After almost two weeks in stifling summer heat, the breeze coming down the hillside from the cave was a welcome treat:
The museum is here:
From the museum you follow down a series of stairs like so:
To a great big cave:
The cave is truly massive, and pictures do not do it justice. High overhead you could see the ceiling:
And many dark hallways leading to other parts of the quarry:
Some were fenced off, presumably for safety reasons, but the areas we did explore were plenty to explore. You could see the rock walls chiseled in fascinating patterns like these:
And the temperature inside? A cold, clammy 11°C:
According to a plaque posted in the quarry, this cave was used in medieval times as a natural refrigerator for storing food stuffs from the community below. There was even champagne on display too:
Speaking of rocks, after we left the Ōya Quarry, we went to a nearby temple. I’ll cover that in a later post. 😉