UTSUNOMIYA -- This Tochigi prefectural capital, which proudly boasts a beloved gyoza statue outside its main Japan Railways (JR) station, has reclaimed the title of Japan's gyoza consumption capital, after a four-year hiatus.
The shift back to Utsunomiya was made clear by the release of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications' family budget survey on Jan. 30 -- which revealed that the city had the highest "annual expenditure per household" on the Chinese-style dumplings in 2017.
The exact amount was found to be 4,258 yen (about $39), which is approximately 700 yen more than that of its "gyoza rival," Hamamatsu in Shizuoka Prefecture, at 3,582 yen.
Commenting on the news, Akihiro Suzuki, secretary-general of a local gyoza association made up of gyoza restaurants in the city, stated cheerfully, "The love for gyoza and love for our hometown has really come to the fore."
From April 2018 onward, Tochigi Prefecture will be part of a major JR tourist project called "Destination Campaign." The favorable timing of the gyoza crown returning to the prefecture's largest city could be the perfect dash of spice needed to attract even more tourists.