Located on the southwestern shore of Lake Biwa-ko, Otsu is the capital of Shiga, and once flourished as a post station along Tokaido Street (between Tokyo and Kyoto) in the southwestern part of the prefecture. Numerous historical sites and cultural assets, such as the Mii-dera and Ishiyama-dera temples, and seven out of eight scenic spots known as the Omi Hakkei, are found in the city. The best known is Enryaku-ji Temple at Mt. Hiei, the birthplace of Japanese Buddhism.
Visitors can enjoy a cruise on Lake Biwa by taking a sightseeing boat from Nagisa-koen Park at Hama-otsu, where mirages sometime appear. Off the shore of Otsu Harbor, the “Biwa-ko Hana-funsui,” one of the largest fountains in the world, sprays out water in various shapes making a fantastic sight.
The Otsu-matsuri Festival is held every fall, and 13 floats covered with rich decorations and ‘karakuri’ mechanisms travel around the city. The Otsu-matsuri Hikiyama Tenjikan Exhibition Hall exhibits full-size floats as well as a reproduction of the bustling city streets on the festival day, where visitors can hear ‘matsuri-bayashi’ or festival music and observe the karakuri mechanisms more closely.