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Stone storehouses that create landscapes

When you visit Utsunomiya, you can see stone buildings all over the city. Nowadays, we can easily transport stones and wood anywhere by automobile, but in the days when automobiles were not yet developed, locally available building materials had a great influence on the townscape of that area. Utsunomiya is an area rich in stone, which is rare even in Japan, and many stone buildings remain in the city. Today we will introduce the architectural and geographical features of the city of Utsunomiya.

Photo by Ishinokura HP

porous volcanic ash stone

A stone called Oya stone can be obtained in the Otani district in the northwest of Utsunomiya. It is mainly formed from volcanic ash from the eruption of submarine volcanoes 15 to 20 million years ago. Stones made from volcanic ash are soft, light, and porous, and Oya stone is characterized by its rustic texture with spots called miso. From around the Meiji period, along with the development of automobiles, it became widely used as a building material, and a representative architectural work is Frank Lloyd Wright's ``Old Imperial Hotel Ride Building''.

Photo by Meiji Village Museum

Converting scattered stone warehouses into local resources

Even in the city of Utsunomiya, many stone storehouses were built as storehouses because they are more resistant to fire than wooden ones, and some of these stone storehouses still remain today. Recently, the number of restaurants and cafes that have been renovated from these stone warehouses has increased, and they are once again attracting attention as a resource for the town. If you are interested, you can even open your own shop in a stone warehouse, as there are sites that match stone warehouse owners with tenants.

Photo by Utsunomiya Town Development Promotion Organization

By the way, at the Oya Stone Underground Quarry Ruins, you can see the temple-like ruins of the Oya Stone Quarry. It is a place filled with history, as it was quarried for 70 years starting in 1919 and was used as a secret factory for the Japanese military during the war.

We turn our attention to local resources and reconsider the unique charm and value of each region. I believe that by reaffirming the regional characteristics that have been lost due to advances in transportation and technology, we will be able to pass on our traditions to the next generation. Please come and visit the city and try to incorporate the economy to preserve the history of the area.

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