Saturday, September 15, 2007

大谷 Oya Stone Mines

Today Heather and I visited the Oya stone mines and museum also just a few minutes out of Utsunomiya. Oya stone itself has been used in construction for hundreds of years in Japan and it is a very familiar sight around many large buildings and homes. It is very soft and workable but maybe not as strong as other materials so seems to have been regulated to mainly decorative use and fencing materials in recent years. What makes the Oya Mines so interesting historically is that during WWII the large caverns were used by the Japanese military for the construction and storage of airplanes and other equipment as well. As the caverns are pretty large and deep its pretty easy to imagine large makeshift factories being conctructed inside. Whats hard to imagine is the 85Kg rectangular blocks of stone being sawed out with some of the old equpiment still on display there, and then being hauled out up flights of stairs on some guys back that probably weighed half that much.
Also in the area are several large and small statues made from the stone that are over a 1000 years old. Probably the most famous is the largest at (I think) 27M is called Oya Kannon which was created around 1950.
As always you can see a few more photos in the flickr folder.
I will also put a link below to another persons website with some really nice pictures of the inside of the caverns. It was very cool, wet, and actually foggy inside this morning, and as it was pretty dark also, the fog reflected in the flash ruining most of our cavern pictures. This gentleman obviously has better equipment and skills than us.


Amanda, Ian, and Addison said...

How did they get the completed planes out of the caves?

kevin said...

There are actually a lot of openings and entrances, some of which I guess are pretty large. The tunnels themselves are suprisingly large. I had ridden my motorcycle through the area many times and didnt even realize the mines were there. They only let you walk into a very small portion of what is actually mined out, but some of the rooms for lack of a better term are pretty big. ksaul