A great destination for adventure can be located underground in Tochigi, Japan. The place is known as Oya History Museum due to the rock material, Oya stone (Oya-ishi), it is made of. It used to be a mining area since the 17th century but was converted into a museum due to its ancient Egypt-like features.
An Oya stone is an igneous rock produced from lava and ash coming from volcanoes. It is greenish in color with a warm texture and can easily be carved which provides flexibility in designing buildings. It was mainly utilized for construction in the past when concrete wasn’t yet popular. However, nowadays, this can only be found around the town of Oya, near Utsunomiya which is the capital city of Tochigi Prefecture. The village is known as a “village of stone” due to its having been built on a plateau of Oya stone. Most people who visit the area are commercial visitors interested in rock architecture.
Oya Stone as a building material is impressively strong. It has even been used by Frank Lloyd Wright, an American architect and interior designer, in making the historical Imperial Hotel in Tokyo’s Hibiya district. On the day of the hotel’s completion, the Great Kanto Earthquake struck which left the building standing. It has proven itself to be a reliable construction material capable of facing heavy calamities.
Oya History Museum is 500 meters apart from Oya-ji Temple. Its underground cavern measures 20,000 square meters which is similar to that of a baseball field. It was said to have been used as a military storehouse and a secret underground factory in the past. So many exhibitions are being featured relating to the history of mining the stone. It was only in the 1970s when many companies started mining stones which reached 900,000 tons per year. However, due to the fame of concrete, the demand for the stone decreased. Nowadays, only 24,000 tons are being mined yearly.
In modern times, the cavern is used for shooting movies, music videos and so on. However, as it is underground, the museum has a cold atmosphere which can dip to 8 degrees. So prepare to warm yourself upon your visit.
If you want to visit an interesting and historical place underground, then Oya History Museum is definitely for you!