History Written in Stone
Oya History Museum
Oya History Museum
The Oya stone has a vast and varied history. Around 1,500 years ago, Oya stone was mined for use in building burial chambers. In more recent times, and perhaps most famously, the American architect Frank Lloyd Wright included Oya stone in his design for the former Imperial Hotel in Tokyo. During World War II, this mine was utilized as a manufacturing facility for airplanes.
On the main floor of the Oya History Museum, you can visit a display area that features tools used to dig the mine. Most of the explorable area here was dug by hand. Keep that in mind as you tour the museum and mine – the human effort required for an operation of this scale is truly impressive.
Remember to bring a jacket when you enter the old mine area; the temperature underground hovers at 7°C (45°F) year-round.
As you descend into the mine, you’ll notice a peculiar phenomenon on the walls. Salt crystals form as water evaporates from the stone, creating intricate flower-like patterns.
As you tour the old mine space, you’ll see that history is written on the walls, with evidence of hand digging all around you. In some sections, deep grooves indicate the introduction of machine mining in 1960.
About 300,000 cubic meters of stone have been mined from this area, creating a cavern with towering walls 30 meters underground. Today, in addition to being a museum, this area is utilized for events like concerts, weddings, music videos, and movies.
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