city in Shiga prefecture, Japan

Ōtsu (大津) [1] is the capital of Shiga prefecture.

Cherry Blossoms at Miidera Temple.

Enryaku-ji, a Tendai monastery located on Mount Hiei overlooking Kyoto, is the headquarters of the Tendai sect and one of the most significant monasteries in Japanese history. It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site "Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto (Kyoto, Uji and Otsu Cities)".

Get inEdit

By planeEdit

The closest major airports to Ōtsu are Kansai Airport and Itami Airport in Osaka.

From Kansai Airport (KIX IATA), take the JR Haruka Limited Express to Kyoto and change to a local train to Ōtsu (approx. 1 hr 45 min, ¥3130 for unreserved seats).

From Itami Airport (ITM IATA), take an airport limousine bus to Shin-Osaka (25 min, ¥500) then take a JR train to Ōtsu (35 min, ¥840). Alternatively, take a bus to Kyoto (1 hr, ¥1310) then a JR train to Ōtsu (10 min, ¥200).

You can change elsewhere for the Keihan trams (see below).

By trainEdit

The JR Biwako Line runs from Osaka and Kyoto to Ōtsu station.

A convenient alternative to travel around the area is on the two Keihan tram lines: the Keishin Line and the Ishiyama-Sakamoto Line. Both lines converge at Biwako-Hamaōtsu (びわ湖浜大津), close to Lake Biwa. You can change between the JR and Keihan lines at three stations: Yamashina, Zeze and Ishiyama. Yamashina is just one stop from Kyoto Station on the JR.

By subwayEdit

Kyoto's Tōzai Line subway conveniently runs through to the Keihan Keishin Line from stations in central Kyoto. This is also a convenient option if connecting from the Keihan Main Line at Sanjō station.

Get aroundEdit

Map of Otsu

By trainEdit

Travelling around Otsu by train is quite convenient. The Keihan Ishiyama Sakamoto Line connects each end of the city, so no matter where you are, there will likely be a station nearby.


Enryaku-ji Buddhist temple
  • 1 Enryakuji Temple (延暦寺), +81 77-578-0001. The head temple of Tendai Buddhism and a World Heritage Site located atop Mount Hiei.
  • 2 Gichu-ji Temple (義仲寺). The burial place of famed haiku poet Matsuo Bashō, of Narrow Road to the Deep North fame. The temple is 300 m away from JR Zeze Station (膳所駅), one stop from Otsu on the JR Tokaido Line. Entrance is ¥200.    
  • 3 Ishiyama-dera (石山寺) (On the Keihan Line, go to Ishiyama-dera Station. Upon exiting, go right for about 15 minutes). This temple was founded in 749 and the hondō (main hall) is the oldest building in Shiga Prefecture built 850 years ago. Inside the hondo, in the room on the right, is the "Genji Room" where it is believed Murasaki Shikibu wrote her famous book "Tale of Genji", considered to be the world's first novel. The temple precincts are quite large, with a 750 year old pagoda and Muyū-en Garden (無憂園) among other things. The pathway leading to the temple is lined with cherry trees, making it especially beautiful in the spring and autumn. For those traveling on the Saigoku 33 Kannon Temple Pilgrimage, Ishiyama-dera is number 13. Entrance is ¥500.    
  • 4 Miidera Temple (三井寺).    
  • 5 Hiyoshi Taisha (日吉大社).    
  • 6 Takebe Shrine (建部大社). This was once the head shrine of Omi Province.    
  • 7 Omi Jingu (近江神宮). An attractive shrine dedicated to Emperor Tenji as an imperial shrine. It has strong associations with the origins of the karuta game and it hosts the National Karuta Championships every year.    


  • Michigan Cruise (ミシガンクルーズ). A cruise of Lake Biwa with on-board entertainment and food. They offer 60 minute, 80 minute and night cruises, each with their own prices. Boat leaves from Otsu Port. The ship's name comes from the American state of Michigan because Otsu has a sister-city relationship with the state's capital, Lansing.



  • 1 Kanekichi (かね吉). Local Omi beef specialist.
  • 2 Matsukiya, 14-17 Karahashicho Otsu-shi, Shiga Pref. 520-0851, +81 77-534-2901, fax: +81 77-537-6201. Lunch: 11:30-14:00, closed at 15:00; dinner: 17:00-20:30, closed at 22:00. Local Omi beef specialist.
  • Kaneyo, 23-51 Otani Otsu, Shiga Pref. 520-0062, +81 77-524-2222, . Unagi restaurant



  • Ogoto onsen hotspring (English information)
  • 1 Lake Biwa Otsu Prince Hotel (びわ湖大津プリンスホテル). A lakeside hotel with nice views of Lake Biwa. Singles from ¥8300.
  • 2 Apa Hotel Biwako (アパホテル びわ湖) (Near Seta Station). A decent, fairly affordable hotel. Singles from ¥4700.

Go nextEdit

Routes through Otsu
OsakaKyoto  W   E  KusatsuNagoya
END  N   S  Misasagi → into  Karasuma Oike
OsakaKyoto  W   E  KusatsuNagoya

This city travel guide to Otsu is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.