Otsu / 大津市(Shiga)

About Otsu

Located in the southwest of Shiga, Otsu is Shiga’s largest city. Long ago, before Kyoto became Japan’s capital, Otsu in fact served as the country’s capital, albeit for a brief period of time, and was known as “Otsu-kyo.” Situated right next to Japan’s former capital, Kyoto, Otsu is blessed with both nature and history—boasting Japan’s largest lake, Lake Biwa, as well as Mt. Hiei, known as the cradle of Japanese Buddhism. Otsu is also home to Omi Jingu, a shrine that pays homage to Emperor Tenji, the one who had designated Otsu the capital in the year 667. Omi Jingu is renowned as a sacred place for Karuta (Japanese playing cards.)

Getting there and around


・From Tokyo
Take the Tokaido Shinkansen from JR Tokyo Station, get off at Kyoto Station, then transfer to the JR Biwako Line, and get off at Otsu Station.
・From Nagoya
From JR Nagoya Station, take the Tokaido Shinkansen, get off at Kyoto Station, then transfer to the JR Biwako Line, and get off at Otsu Station.


Keihan Bus and Omi Bus are convenient modes of transportation for getting around Otsu City.

Top Attractions

Otsu City is home to numerous historical spots, including Hieizan Enryakuji, the head temple of the Tendai sect of Buddhism; Ishiyama Temple, where Murasaki Shikibu is said to have written The Tale of Genji; and Omi Shrine, which is dedicated to Emperor Tenji. Also, "Lake Biwa Terrace," at an altitude of 1,100 meters above sea level, offers a panoramic view of the magnificent Lake Biwa. Otsu is located a convenient 10-minute train ride from Kyoto.

Enryakuji Temple/比叡山延暦寺(Shiga)

Enryakuji Temple/比叡山延暦寺(Shiga)
  • Otsu
  • Shiga
  • Arts and Crafts
  • Temples & Shrines
  • World Heritage
  • Historical Sites
Hieizan Enryakuji is the head temple of the Tendai sect of Buddhism in Japan, and its vast temple area stretches out across Mt. Hiei. The temple is said to have been founded in 785, at the end of the ...

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Lake Biwa/琵琶湖(Shiga)

Lake Biwa/琵琶湖(Shiga)
  • Otsu
  • Shiga
  • Cultural Experience
  • Beautiful Places
  • Beaches & Coast
The pride of Shiga Prefecture, Lake Biwa, is the largest freshwater lake in Japan. It is also the oldest lake in the country with a history dating back as far as four million years, and is one of the ...

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Special Tours

Nagoya Travel Guide