The highlight is a visit to the huge underground space at the Ohya-ishi Quarry Ruins. Enjoy some "Utsunomiya Gyoza," a lip smacking good treat.
Utsunomiya, the seat of the Tochigi prefectural government, is located near the center of the prefecture. It is less than one hour away by Shinkansen from Tokyo Station. During the Edo Period, it was an important point for the northern Kanto area that included the Tohoku region and Nikko. Utsunomiya Castle, which once boasted of magnificence, is now a ruin castle park, an oasis in the city that is cherished by the local citizens.
It is not possible to separate the history of Utsunomiya from "Ohya-ishi" (Ohya stone), which was created by volcanic activity more than 2,000 years ago. This green-colored tuff has warmth, is light and easy to process, and is quite durable. Because of its superior qualities, it is used in various structures. Although there are many sights to be seen there, such as the rock wall of Ohya stone standing in Ohya Keikan-koen Park and the Japan's oldest carving of Buddha called a 'Magaibutsu,' perhaps the highlight is the huge underground space at the Ohya-ishi Quarry Ruins. The space is 60 meters deep at its deepest spot, and the average temperature inside is just 6 degrees Celsius. There is an atmosphere of fantasy in the underground space that can only be found in this "village of stone." In this city prospered as a temple town, you will also find traditional shrines and Buddhist temples, along with churches constructed using plenty of Ohya stone.
Nowadays the catchphrase "Gyoza Town" is spreading as another name for Utsunomiya. There is even a huge figure of a 'gyoza (Chinese dumplings)' in front of Utsunomiya Station. There are some 200 gyoza specialty shops located throughout the city, all of them competing to make the tastiest dumplings. Gyoza dumplings are a mainstay of Chinese food, but have come to be ranked high among the foods enjoyed by the Japanese. The dumplings are said to resemble the Italian pasta dish ravioli. A thin flour shell is filled with pork or other ingredients, and gyoza dumplings are usually eaten after being grilled, fried or cooked in soup. Please be sure to enjoy some "Utsunomiya Gyoza."
From Tokyo :
[Rail] 50 min from Tokyo (Ueno) to Utsunomiya Station by JR Tohoku Shinkansen Line, or 1h 25 min from Ueno to Utsunomiya Station by JR Utsunomiya Line (rapid-service).