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Whenever I watch national broadcaster NHK’s weather forecast, I feel consoled that no matter how hot it may get in July and August in Tokyo, the mercury in Utsunomiya is always going to be several degrees higher.

So this city of 500,000 that’s 100 km north of Tokyo in Tochigi Prefecture was the last place I expected to go to cool off — until I discovered the Oya Stone Museum, an underground limestone quarry where the thermometer registers about 8 degrees year-round.

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