Explore the Town

Otsu, the Gateway to Lake Biwa.

Just a short train ride from Kyoto, Inase is located in Otsu City, the capital of Shiga Prefecture, serving as a gateway to Japan’s largest lake, Lake Biwa.

Whether serving as a base for your Kyoto visit, for visiting the Otsu area’s many famous historical sites, or as a stop on the Biwaichi cycling course (the route circling Lake Biwa), we welcome from guests from around the world. We’re very much looking forward to seeing you here!

Otsu Area Popular Destination Spots

Otsu Life and Culture
Photos courtesy of Biwako Visitors Bureau.


The historical Otsu city, known as Otsu-no-miya, was founded by Emperor Tenji about 1350 years ago. The city has preserved a number of its historical sites such the world-famous Enryakuji Temple, Miidera Temple, and Hiyoshi Taisha Shrine. Find hints of the deep history and tradition as you explore the city.


The long tradition of spectacular festivals (matsuri) is still alive, as seen in our Sanno-sai Festival in Spring, Senko-sai Festival in Summer, and Otsu-matsuri Festival in Fall. The festivals’ vibrant and bold energy attract many tourists today.

Local Life

Our city developed as the Tokaido Road’s last station before the old capital of Kyoto, and as a major port for lake transportation of old times. Thanks to the natural and geological advantages of Lake Biwa, distinct local culture, history and traditions arose which still live on today in the lives of our local community members.

Food Culture

Various local foods worth seeking out include one of Japan’s top wagyu beef types, Omi Gyu, and local freshwater fish delicacies from the lake. One such specialy, funazushi, a crucian carp fermented in a bed of rice, draws attention not only as a primitive form of sushi but also for the health benefit of its fermentation. And be sure to try sake made from the clear water of the surrounding freshwater ecosystem as well as traditional local wagashi sweets.

Arts & Craft

Otsu-e is a major style of traditional working class folk art that developed much like Ukiyo-e during the Edo Period. Otsu-e eventually spread throughout Japan as it became a famous souvenir for travelers passing through the station town. Also, Otsu Soroban (abacus), Matsumoto Kawara (roof tiles), Zeze-yaki and Konan-yaki (potteries) are all part of the area’s traditional arts and crafts.

Nature & Outdoors

The abundance of picturesque scenery and spots around the city have appeared in waka poetry, and in the famous series of ukiyo-e prints called Omi-Hakkei (Eight Views of Omi). Or try a more active outdoor experience! There are various activities available at Lake Biwa or the Hira mountain range which will surely provide memorable experiences that you won’t find in the bigger and busier cities.