Utsunomiya is considered the “gyoza capital” of Japan.
In this city of roughly 500,000 residents, hundreds of restaurants sell some variation on the dumplings, which typically consist of a mixture of pork, cabbage, and seasoning that’s wrapped in thin dough, then fried or boiled. Considered to be Japan’s leading consumer of gyoza, Utsunomiya boasts a gyoza association, a gyoza festival, and the “Venus of Gyoza,” a statue paying tribute to the city’s beloved food.
Located at the Utsunomiya JR Station, the Venus of Gyoza is essentially half-dumpling, half goddess. The distinct crescent shape of the gyoza makes up the statue’s center, complete with its trademark rippled edge. Emerging from the dumpling are the goddess’s face, arms, and breasts, with two legs extending to the statue’s base.
The origins of gyoza likely date back to World War II, when Japanese soldiers who fought in China returned with a taste—and, more importantly, recipes—for dumplings. Today, there are countless styles available throughout Utsunomiya and greater Japan, ranging from spicy to savory to sweet.