Initially, I was gonna go to Utsunomiya alone over the weekend and take my time photographing the surroundings, thanks to Sachi, Daniel and Chai who joined the company and made it such a great day out.
Our main attraction was Oya Stone Mining where we could go to the underground mining area (12 degree Celsius down there). It was totally strange when we were inside, it was as if we were walking in one of Egyptian pyramids.. dim light, wet & cold, lots of stone..After some hours, we went to the Kannon Statue nearby, think it's 27-metre high (you can see a rough scale comparing to Sachi in the photo below).
Utsunomiya is well known for gyoza, more like gyoza capital really. We headed to the so-called no.1 shop (internet buzz), but it didn't really live up to the reputation at all. Not so satisfied, we went to another gyoza shop with Kenta-kun mascot around the same gyoza hiroba area next to the station, it's obviously much better. We ordered a roulette of 12 kinds which we had no idea what we're having.. Good stuff thro. Afterward, we strolled around the city center and snapped some of what Utsunomiya has to offer: ruin of castle, cathedral, etc.
Then the highlight of the trip was Monkey Izakaya (Kayabuki) where monkeys serve as waiter/ waitress. Although it's a little different to my experience a few years ago, the visit was quite entertaining and somewhat fulfilling :D