Otsu Travel Guide

  • Ishiyama-dera's Mascot
    Ishiyama-dera's Mascot
    by Rabbityama
  • Garden in Ishiyamadera
    Garden in Ishiyamadera
    by Rabbityama
  • Pathway to Ishiyamadera
    Pathway to Ishiyamadera
    by Rabbityama

Otsu Things to Do

  • Enryakuji Temple

    Located atop Mount Hiei, Enryakuji Temple is the head temple of the Tendai Buddhist sect, a World Heritage Site, and one of the top three holy grounds in Japan (the others being Mount Osore and Mount Koya). Although it is considered to be a single temple, Enryakuji is actually a large temple complex with many buildings. Pictures cannot be taken in...

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  • Go to the top!!

    You must take the cable car & go to the top of Mt. Hiei & see the beautiful view of Lake Biwa. Lake Biwa occupies 1/6th of the area of Shiga Prefecture. It is one of the world's oldest lakes & the largest lake in Japan! The cable car takes 10 mins each way & runs every 1/2 an hr. Fares for the cable car:Adults 840yen one-way, 1570yen...

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  • Hiyoshi Shrine

    Hiyoshi Shrine dates back to the 16th century, although the original was mentioned in the Kojiki. It was designated as one of the twenty-two top shrines in the Heian Period, so the imperial court made offerings here. It is located just below Mount Hiei. The shrine parts are divided into an "east" and "west" section. The shrine grounds are not that...

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  • Miidera Temple

    Miidera Temple is the fourteenth temple of the Saigoku 33 Temple Pilgrimage Route. The temple grounds are said to be one of the largest in Japan, although many of the buildings are located quite close to one another. The main hall dates back to 1599, and many of the other structures are even older. Miidera once had ties to Enryakuji Temple but...

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  • Ishiyamadera Temple

    Ishiyamadera has gained famed as the thirteenth temple in the Saigoku 33 Temple Pilgrimage Route. One of the rooms in the Hondo is believed to be where Murasaki Shikibu wrote the famous Tale of Genji, considered to be the world's first novel.The temple was built in 749. The temple grounds contain a variety of flowering plants, including cherry...

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  • Ishiyamadera Temple

    This temple is one of the oldest temple in Japan. Located on the bank of Seta River in the south end of Otsu City. This temple was founded 1250 years ago, in AD749. This beautiful garden is one of the many gardens inside the temple.

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  • Lake Biwa

    This is the biggest lake in Japan. Otsu is not the only one city at the shore of this lake. There are many other cities such as Kusatsu, Ritto, Maibara, etc. However if you want to enjoy Lake Biwa you can start from Otsu, because this city is nearest to Kyoto and Osaka.

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  • Mount Hiei

    (Enryaku-ji temple) On top of this mountain you will find an impressive temple complex. It’s divided in 3 different areas: Todo, Saito and Yokawa. Some examples to visit: the Konpochu-do(primary central hall), the daiko-do(great lecture hall), Hokke-do(Lotus Hall) and much more. Not everything can be accessed though. Ow, don’t forget the bell......

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  • Syoro (bell)

    Syoro is the name of the bell on mount Hiei. If you hit it, the sound goes over the valley. Amazing....You can hit it only one time, so be aware for the kick-back. Ow, by the way, this is a sacred thing to do, so my advice,... no funny stuff with this bell. ;-)

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  • World class art museum

    If you're into art, the Miho Museum will blow your mind.The building is away from the city of Otsu, tucked into the mountains. It was designed by I.M. Pei, the guy who did the Bank of China in Hong Kong, and the Pyramid in the Louvre Museum in Paris. It is in itself, a work of art.Inside, you'll find separate permanent exhibitions of Japanese art,...

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  • Enryaku-ji Temple Complex

    There is no one temple named Enryaku-ji, but a temple complex. In Dec 1994, Enryaku-ji on Mount Hiei was registered by UNESCO as a World Cultural Asset. It was originally a monastery, built by Saicho Dengyo Daishi in the 8th century.There are temple complexes scattered on Mt. Hiei. Visitors can enter some of them. Others are off limits. I went...

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  • Beautiful Toros

    These are beautiful toros that line the staircase on the way up to Amida Do. Toros are stone lanterns that grace gardens, temples, & shrines around Japan. They come in many different sizes & shapes, but common to all of them is the hollowed upper part that was made to hold candles, oil lamps, or electric lights.

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Otsu Hotels

See all 55 Hotels in Otsu
  • Auberge Meson

    1039-45 Kitahira, Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, 520-0503, Japan

    Satisfaction: Excellent

    Good for: Families

  • Royal Oak Hotel

    23-1 Kayanoura, Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, 520-2143, Japan

    Satisfaction: Excellent

    Good for: Solo

    Hotel Class 5 out of 5 stars

  • Otsu Prince Hotel

    7 7 Nionohama 4CHOME Otsu 5208520

    Satisfaction: Very Good

    Good for: Families

Otsu Transportation

  • Getting to and Around Otsu

    Otsu is right next to Kyoto, so for most travelers it is very convenient and easy to reach. From Kyoto you can take the Subway Tozai Line to Hamotsu Station or the JR Biwako Line to Otsu Station.From the East, you can take the Shinkansen to Maibara Station and then JR Tokaido Main Line to Otsu Station.Because Otsu is built around Lake Biwa, it is...

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  • Cable car

    The easiest way to get to the top of mount Hiei is by cable car.It will cost you 1570 Yen for a roundtrip. They go every half hour.

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  • To get to Mt. Hiei & Enryaku-ji Temple...

    Take the train to JR Hiei Sakamoto Station or Keihan Sakamoto Station. From there, walk up the hill towards the mountain. There are English signs along the way to guide you in the right direction. It takes about 5 mins to walk to the Sakamoto Cable Car that will take you up to the mountain. There is a bus you can take as well, but walking it is...

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Otsu Warnings and Dangers

  • by susumu Written Dec 23, 2003

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    I used to live in Otsu for a couple of years, and it was always very safe. There're a couple of things though that I'd describe more as annoyances.

    First, those ultra-nationalist guys. It's easy to recognize them because they always travel in black vans with flags and many large Kanji characters painted on them. They usually drive slowly and play martial music very loud, so all the neighborhood knows when they're around.

    The other thing that might be an inconvenience are the yakuzas. They're also easy to spot. They just look very flamboyant compared to the rest of the population. They usually have a perm hairstyle, might wear dark glasses, might wear lots of golden chains, might grow a mustache, might be missing one finger (amputated when they commited a mistake)... and if you happen to see them shirless, they're always heavily and colorfully tatooed.

    In order to avoid problems with them, just make sure you're not on their way, try to keep a low profile.

    Some of these yakuza guys (but not all of them) are looking for fights, so it's a good idea not to be on their way.

    As for the ultra-nationalists, they're usually not very well educated people. It doesn't matter that you run into them. They might be kind of scary (and annoying) to most Japanese, but if you just ignore them, you should be okay.

    Related to:
    • Backpacking
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Budget Travel

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Otsu Tourist Traps

  • A2002's Profile Photo

    by A2002 Updated Feb 23, 2003

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    I think that it is a tourist trap to go on this cruise cos it is expensive
    (JPY5000 per person) with low quality food. It was a "buffet" dinner. Inverted commas because if you do not rush to the food table before everyone else does, you will end up with cheap food nobody want to try. This is because, no refill for the food. Once it is finished, no more food for you then. This is way below my expectation for a buffet.
    For views on the lake, well, too dark to see for most part of the journey. Not very impressive to me. Perhaps I have been to the highlands in Scotland.

    Unique Suggestions: Stand near to the food table and rush to it when it start. Expect to stand and eat.

    Fun Alternatives: For that money, you can try a mini kaiseki in Kyoto.

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Otsu Sports & Outdoors

  • widhiartha's Profile Photo

    by widhiartha Written Feb 19, 2005

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    Lake Biwa, especially at Otsu part, is the favourite place for fishing for Kansai people. You can easily get many big and fresh fish in this lake. You can do fishing from the shore or rent small boat to go fishing at the middle of the Lake. You also can do picnic with your friends and families at the shore of this lake.

    Equipment: Your fishing equipment. There are no rental for the equipment.

    other picture of the Biwako's shore
    Related to:
    • Fishing

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Otsu Favorites

  • by susumu Updated Dec 23, 2003

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: Otsu itself is not a great tourist destination. However, it's very close to Kyoto (about 20 minutes by train), which has hundreds of places of interest.

    If you're feeling a bit overwhelmed by the Kyoto temples and museums, you might want to hop into the train and head for Otsu. This city is right in front of Lake Biwa, and you'd probably enjoy walking along the sidewalk that stretches along the shore.

    For lunch, you could just buy some boxed lunch at 7-Eleven and eat sitting on the grass or one of the benches facing the lake. Or you could eat at one of the two shopping centers near Keihan Hamaotsu station.

    There's also a boat restaurant that leaves from the pier near Keihan Hamaotsu station, but I've never tried it. I didn't feel attracted because they try to give the imression it's an American boat, complete with caucasian entertainers. I think they call it the Mississippi.

    Nothing wrong with white people. But if you go sightseeing in Japan, I think the last thing you want to see is a Deep South inspired show.

    Related to:
    • Budget Travel
    • Backpacking
    • Hiking and Walking

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