The 10 Best Places To Visit In Ōtsu

Imagine a place where the serenity of ancient temples harmonizes with the gentle waves of a vast lake. That’s ŌTsu for you, a hidden gem nestled in the heart of Japan, just a stone’s throw from the bustling city of Kyoto. As someone who’s wandered through its charming streets and soaked in its rich history, I can’t help but share the allure of this captivating city. Let’s dive into the 10 best places that make Ōtsu a must-visit destination.

1. Enchanting Views at Lake Biwa

Lake Biwa isn’t just any lake; it’s Japan’s largest Freshwater lake and a lifeline for the residents of Ōtsu. I’ve spent countless hours strolling along its shores, each time finding a new perspective of its beauty. Whether you’re up for a leisurely boat ride or a picnic by the water, Lake Biwa’s enchanting views never disappoint.

2. Spiritual Solace at Enryaku-ji Temple

Perched on the sacred Mount Hiei, Enryaku-ji Temple is a site of profound spiritual significance. It’s a complex that’s as peaceful as it is powerful, with a history that stretches back over a millennium. I’ve felt a sense of tranquility wash over me every time I’ve wandered through its ancient halls.

3. A Step Back in Time at Ōmi-jingū Shrine

Ōmi-jingū Shrine is a place that seems to whisper tales of the past. Dedicated to Emperor Tenji, it’s a spot where history buffs like me can Revel in the stories of ancient Japan. The shrine’s architecture is a feast for the eyes, and the annual reenactment of traditional court music is a treat for the ears.

4. Cherry Blossoms at Ishiyama-dera Temple

Spring in Ōtsu is synonymous with cherry blossoms, and there’s no better place to experience this than at Ishiyama-dera Temple. The temple grounds are a canvas of pink and white during sakura season, creating a scene that’s nothing short of magical. It’s a sight that’s etched in my memory, one that I yearn to revisit every year.

5. The Grandeur of Hiyoshi Taisha Shrine

Hiyoshi Taisha Shrine holds a special place in the hearts of locals, and it’s easy to see why. With its grand torii Gates and verdant surroundings, the shrine exudes a majestic aura. I’ve often found myself lost in thought, admiring the intricate woodwork and the peaceful atmosphere.

6. Cultural Treasures at Ōtsu City Museum of History

For those keen on delving deeper into Ōtsu’s past, the Ōtsu City Museum of History is a treasure trove. The museum showcases artifacts that tell the story of the city’s evolution. I’ve spent hours here, each exhibit providing a new piece of the puzzle that is Ōtsu’s rich heritage.

7. The Vibrant Ōtsu Matsuri Festival

If you’re lucky enough to visit in October, the Ōtsu Matsuri Festival is a spectacle you can’t miss. It’s a vibrant display of culture, with elaborate floats and lively performances. I’ve danced along with the locals, feeling the infectious energy of this centuries-old Celebration.

8. Gastronomic Delights at Biwako Valley

Biwako Valley isn’t just about stunning views; it’s also a haven for foodies. I’ve indulged in some of the most delectable local cuisine here, with each dish offering a taste of Ōtsu’s culinary excellence. Don’t miss out on the succulent Biwa trout, a local specialty.

9. Serene Walks at Ukimido Pavilion

Set on the tranquil waters of Lake Biwa, Ukimido Pavilion is a spot that epitomizes calm. I’ve taken many serene walks on the bridge leading to the pavilion, each time feeling as if I’m walking on water. It’s a place that truly captures the essence of Ōtsu’s peaceful spirit.

10. The Scenic Beauty of Ogoto Onsen

Last but not least, Ogoto Onsen offers a blissful escape with its therapeutic Hot Springs. I’ve soaked in the soothing waters, surrounded by scenic beauty, and it’s an experience that rejuvenates both body and mind. It’s the perfect way to unwind after exploring the city.


  • What’s the best time to visit Ōtsu?

    Spring (March to May) is ideal for cherry blossoms, while autumn (September to November) offers pleasant weather and vibrant foliage. However, Ōtsu’s charms can be enjoyed year-round.

  • Is Ōtsu suitable for family trips?

    Absolutely! With its mix of natural beauty, historical sites, and cultural events, Ōtsu has something for every family member to enjoy.

  • How do I get to Ōtsu from Kyoto?

    Ōtsu is just a 10-minute train ride from Kyoto on the JR Biwako Line. It’s incredibly accessible, making it a great day trip or even a base for exploring the Kansai region.


In conclusion, Ōtsu is a city that offers a blend of natural splendor, historical depth, and cultural vibrancy. From the shores of Lake Biwa to the peaks of Mount Hiei, each location tells a story that’s uniquely Ōtsu. Whether you’re seeking spiritual solace, historical insights, or just a peaceful retreat, Ōtsu’s top 10 destinations provide an unforgettable journey. So pack your bags, and get ready to explore the wonders of this enchanting city. Trust me, it’s an adventure you won’t regret.

Kurby Team

The Kurby Content Team is a diverse group of seasoned real estate experts dedicated to providing insightful, reliable information for homebuyers, real estate investors, and real estate agents. With backgrounds ranging from real estate brokerage, property investment, and residential home buying, our team combines decades of experience with a passion for demystifying the real estate world. We at Kurby are committed to helping you make informed, successful real estate decisions. Whether you're a first-time homebuyer, a seasoned investor, or a real estate professional, count on the Kurby Content Team to deliver the most relevant, actionable real estate content you need.