UTSUNOMIYA, Tochigi Pref. -- At the bottom of the steps leading out of JR Utsunomiya Station is a statue of Venus quite unlike any other.

Standing about 1.5 meters tall, the stone statue is shaped like a half moon, the thin edge of the right side rippled like the edges of an oyster shell. On the surface is embossed the face, arms and other prominent body parts of the mythological goddess.

Far from being a commemoration of some celebrated local astronomer or New Age cult, however, the statue is actually a celebration of the city's culinary pride and joy -- "gyoza."