The Oya district of Utsunomiya City is a town located in a large valley surrounded by rock walls. The huge underground space, which was once a mining site, has attracted attention as a sightseeing spot in recent years. As the bus drives towards Oya, the surrounding scenery becomes rockier and it is hard to imagine what the area offers besides “rocks”. Surprisingly, in this place, where the charm of the city and the countryside intersect, the area not just offers temples and museums, but also bakeries and cafes where visitors can get away to this quiet area from the bustling major touristy areas in the neighborhood to spend their day out.
Within the district, this is the furthest as it is located right next to Oya History Museum. At first glance, some people may think it is a museum store. But it is a cafe and a mini shop offering food, drinks, and items made from local ingredients. It's not a typical souvenir shop, but more of an independent store to promote the best of the prefecture. There are many items like aroma candles, jars, and other small objects using Oya stone, a specialty of the Ohya district. Aside from those, other items made with wood such as hinoki (Japanese cypress) and other trees are on sale too. These trees are from Kanuma City, known as a city of woodworkers in Tochigi prefecture. (same prefecture as where the Ohya district is). Some local creators even bring their handmade items to sell at this store too.
To the left of the entrance is the café, and as you enter, you will notice a distinctive long table with a vase of flowers made of Oya stone in the middle. There is also a terrace seating area in the back, which is a popular spot on sunny days. There is so much to choose from, including galettes made with locally grown vegetables, a wide variety of gelato, a seasonal menu, and recommended desserts made with Oya summer strawberries, which are rarely seen in the market and are exclusive to hotels and restaurants.
Mellow Coffee (Open on Friday to Sunday only)
Mellow Coffee is located in the corner of Ohya Base, a cafe, a coworking space, and a library. It is open for three days only from Friday to Sunday. The coffee at this cafe is made by using beans that are roasted directly and are less than a year old. Although it is not as rich and mature as other coffees, it has a distinct taste and aroma that allows you to enjoy the original characteristics of the beans. The latte is recommended for those who want a slightly milder drink. The cafe also offers scones and other sweets and is recommended for those who want to enjoy the original flavor of coffee in a relaxed natural setting.
Ohya Fun Table
Right next to Ohya Base and Mellow Coffee, a popular restaurant, Ohya Fun Table serves dishes using fresh, seasonal ingredients directly imported from local farmers. Their menu using Tochigi Kirifuri Kogen beef, Miyabi pork and Nikko salmon are a delight. All the dishes on the menu are so delicious and filling that it is hard to choose. Because it is so popular, during weekends and holidays, seats run out fast. Lunch closes when all the prepared dishes are gone so going early is best advised. Dinner is by booking only.
The restaurant is less than five minutes from the bus stop, and there is a free parking lot in front of the restaurant, so it is easy to access. There are also sightseeing spots like Oya Temple, Heiwa Kannon (huge statue of the goddess Kannon ), and Oya History Museum nearby, so it is recommended to eat a full meal here and then take a walk around the area.
- OHYA FUN TABLE
The Standard Bakers (Oya Main Store)
The Standard Bakers, which opened a branch in Tokyo Station in July 2020, is a bakery and restaurant from Tochigi prefecture. In Tochigi Prefecture, where a wide variety of strawberries are produced, bread made with those iconic strawberries is so popular that they have recently attracted attention on TV. The main store is located in this Oya district within a stone’s throw of Heiwa Kannnon (huge statue of the goddess Kannon ) and also within a walking distance to other tourist spots. So this bakery and restaurant is a good place to take a break before or after sightseeing. The store has a relaxed atmosphere with high ceilings and a wide variety of bread and ice creams.
Island Stone Coffee Roasters
Island Stone Coffee Roasters, a local coffee shop that roasts its coffee beans in Oya, is a cafe and botanical store that opened in the spring of 2020. This is their second coffee shop, following Rockside Market next to the Oya History Museum. The store purchases coffee beans directly from farms around the world and roasts and brews those themselves. The store is a two-story building, and on the second floor, visitors can enjoy freshly brewed coffee and delicious sweets.
Rare to find: Oya Summer Strawberry
The strawberry season usually starts around November and ends around May. They are susceptible to heat, and in the summer, when the temperature in the greenhouses reaches nearly 60 degrees celsius, they are considered unsuitable for cultivation. However, the underground water and air leftover from the quarry in the Oya area maintained a temperature of 5 to 10 degrees Celsius year-round, and by reusing the underground cold water energy, they succeeded in growing strawberries in the summer. The resulting "Oya Summer Strawberries" is specialized for hotels and restaurants and is not available in the general market. They are grown at places such as the Oya Strawberry Club and Rock Berry Farm and are sometimes sold at places such as Utsunomiya Roadside Station if the amount of harvest exceeds the amount to be exported to hotels and restaurants. Otherwise, it can only be tasted as jam or processed products. If you stop by the Oya area, be sure to try the sweets made from these rare Oya summer strawberries at cafes and restaurants. The strawberries are very tasty, with a firm sweetness and sourness, and are also very chewy.
Once exiting JR Utsunomiya Station West Exit, go to bus stop 6.
From there, take the bus bound for Oya/Tateiwa and get off at Oya Kannon Mae. There are only one or two buses per hour. The total bus ride is about 30 minutes.
From the bus stop, all the cafes, bakery, restaurant and sightseeing places are located within walking distance.READ MORE
- Discover The Underground Lake of Ohya
- Outdoor Activities