Vegetarian's Japan Guide

Ōtsu – A City that Has a History and Stunning Scenery

Ōtsu, the capital of Shiga Prefecture, is filled with rich cultural and historical elements. What many aren’t aware of is the fact that Ōtsu was once Japan’s capital. Although it only lasted for five years, we are sure after you admire the scenery of Japan’s biggest lake, Lake Biwa, it won’t be hard to understand why Emperor Tenji (天智天皇) wanted to stay close to it!

Below is a list of attractions that we reckon may be of your interest. Check them out and pick up a couple to throw into your itinerary for your next Japan trip (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Tip: A nice accommodation with a traditional setting is Inase Otsu Machiya Bed & Breakfast. If you prefer a more luxurious option, check out Lake Biwa Otsu Prince Hotel.

Explore Ōtsu With a Guided Tour

If you prefer a guide to introduce you to the charms of Ōtsu, how about joining one of the below tours?

How to Get to Ōtsu City

To get to Ōtsu City by public transport from Kyoto/Osaka, take a JR train and change to JR Kosei Line at JR Yamashina Station (山科駅).

Tip: Below is a JR Pass list covering Shiga Prefecture. Most of the below passes allow you to take the Kansai Airport Express Haruka from Kansai International Airport, and you will be in Kyoto in 75 minutes. Purchase your pass in advance to save on tax!
JR West Kansai Pass (1, 2, 3 or 4 Days)
JR Kansai WIDE Area Pass (5-Day)
JR Kansai-Hiroshima Area Pass (5-Day)
JR Sanyo-San’in Area Pass (7-Day)
JR-WEST All-Area Pass (7-Day)
JR Sanyo-San in-Northern Kyushu Area Pass (7-Day)
JR Whole Japan Rail Pass (Consecutive 7, 14, or 21 Days)

Mii-dera Temple (三井寺)

Ⓒ びわ湖大津観光協会

Just a 30-minute train ride from Kyoto, Mii-dera Temple (三井寺), formally Nagarasan Onjō-ji (長等山園城寺), overlooks the gorgeous Lake Biwa and is the headquarters of the Tendaijimonshū sect (天台寺門宗). It has been renowned since its establishment when Ōtsu was the capital of Japan. It houses one of the Eight Views of Ōmi (近江八景) and is the 14th temple of the 33 Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage.

In spring and autumn, it is a popular and not-so-crowded place for cherry blossoms and a tunnel crafted from its bright autumn foliage.

For more information, please refer to our article on Mii-dera Temple!

Ōtsu City Museum of History (大津市歴史博物館)

For a feast of historical artworks in Ōtsu/Ōmi, head to the Ōtsu City Museum of History just next to Mii-dera.

You will find Utagawa Hiroshige’s (歌川広重) Eight Views of Ōmi (近江八景) in Ukiyo-e (浮世絵) style, paintings in Ōtsu-e (大津絵) style, calligraphy, crafts, potteries, and other Buddha statues from the famous temples in the area including the Enryakuji in Mt. Hiei.

Ⓒ びわ湖大津観光協会

Ōtsu City Museum of History’s Opening Hours, Admission Fee, and Access Information

  • The museum is open from 9 am to 5 pm.
    • The last admission is at 4:30 pm.
    • It closes on Mondays unless it is a public holiday. The museum will close on the next business day.
    • For the dates that the museum closes, refer to the days blacked out on the calendar HERE.
  • The admission fee is
    • 330 yen for adults
    • 240 yen for high school and university students
    • 160 yen for elementary and junior high school students
  • From Keihan’s Otsu-shiyakusho-mae Station (大津市役所前駅), it is around a 5-minute walk.
  • From JR’s Ōtsukyō Station (大津京駅), it is a 15-minute walk.

Click HERE to return to a list of attractions in Ōtsu.

Miidera Chikara-mochi Honke Main Shop (三井寺力餅本家)

A great place to go after your visit to the Mii-dera is the Miidera Chikara-mochi Honke. Apart from the Honke Chikaraken (本家力軒) in Mii-dera, this shop is another famous Chikara-mochi shop in the city.

From Mii-dera, it is less than a 15-minute walk. And Biwakohama Ōtsu Station (びわ湖浜大津駅) is just at the corner.

This shop was founded in 1869. Just like Honke Chikaraken, no preservatives are used. So it is something that you want to enjoy on the spot (or finish within 2 days).

The mochi is made in the morning each day, one by one. After an order is received, they then dip the rice cakes into a special syrup before sprinkling plenty of Kinako (soybean powder) onto the rice cakes.

Recently, instead of just having rice cakes with a bowl of matcha tea, they also have menus combining traditional Japanese desserts with Western ice cream!

And if you love the traditional painting, don’t forget to head up to their gallery on the second floor for some Ōtsu-e paintings (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Miidera Chikara-mochi Honke Main Shop’s Business Hours and Access Information

  • The shop is open from 7 am to 7 pm.
  • From Keihan’s Biwakohama Ōtsu Station (びわ湖浜大津駅), it is just a 2-minute walk.

Click HERE to return to a list of attractions in Ōtsu.

Lake Biwa Canal (琵琶湖疏水)

If you walk down from Mii-dera to Miidera Chikara-mochi Honke, you should come across this long canal.

What is this canal for? This manmade 9 km waterway was built for Kyoto‘s water supply sourcing from Lake Biwa. The water from this canal is used for a wide range of purposes, from water for daily use to generating electricity. The canal is essential for the citizens of Kyoto to enjoy their life.

Ⓒ 滋賀県
Ⓒ 滋賀県

The construction of the first part of the canal started in 1885 and was completed five years later. The second part of the canal was completed in 1912.

A special thing about this tunnel is the plaques that are hung above each of the tunnels’ entrances. They were all written by Japanese leaders such as Itō Hirobumi (伊藤博文), the former Japanese prime minister.

Click HERE to return to a list of attractions in Ōtsu.

Tenson Shrine (天孫神社)

Another great place to stop by in spring is Tenson Shrine. Although it is just a small shrine, you will surely get some gorgeous photos of cherry blossoms from the end of March to early April.

At night, the scenery is equally amazing, if not even more! If it isn’t rainy, the lighting will be on from sunset until around 9:45 pm.

Tip: If you dislike crowds, reserve your spot for the Ōmu Jikan (桜夢時間). An hour from 8:40 pm, the beauty of the illuminated cherry blossoms is enjoyed by the 10 people who have made a reservation! The cost is 700 yen for a 30-minute session and 1,3000 yen for a 60-minute session.

Moreover, Tenson Shrine is the guardian shrine of Ōtsu. The two-day Ōtsu Festival (大津祭), held in early October each year, is one of the three biggest festivals in the city. During the festival, 13 floats made in the Edo period are paraded through the city. The festival, with a long history, is now an Intangible Important National Cultural Property.

In 2023, the festival will be held from the 7th’s night to the 8th of October.

How to Get to Tenson Shrine

From JR Ōtsu Station, it is less than a 5-minute walk. If you are taking a Keihan train, get off at Shimonoseki Station (島ノ関駅). From there, it is around a 5-minute walk.

Click HERE to return to a list of attractions in Ōtsu.

Cruising Lake Biwa (ミシガンクルーズ 琵琶湖汽船)

Ⓒ 京阪電車

Lake Biwa, with a size of 670 square meters, is Japan’s biggest lake. The lake is so big that it occupies one-sixth of Shiga Prefecture’s land!

When you get here, how about following suit and hopping onto one of the Michigan Cruise ships to tour the southern part of the lake?

The boat is a paddle steamer inspired by American passenger ships in the 19th century. Its name Michigan also originated from the United States.

Because Shiga Prefecture is a sister city of Michigan State. In 1982, when the boat first went into service, it was named Michigan in the hope of maintaining a good relationship with the states.

Depending on when you board the cruise, the length of the journey differs slightly. Please refer to HERE for the departure schedule and cruise fare.

Tip: If you didn’t book for dining on the cruise (which might be a smart choice whether you are a vegetarian or not), it is better if you can save yourself an indoor seat before you head out to the deck (especially if the cruise you are boarding is full). If you go for the dining option, check with the cruising company for a seat with a better view.

The company also provides cruises to access other parts of Lake Biwa, such as Chikubushima Island and the northern part of Lake Biwa.

Ⓒ 京阪電車

A reservation isn’t required if you don’t want to dine on the boat. But to ensure your spot on the cruise you want to board, it is best to make a reservation HERE.

How to Get to Ōtsu Port

  • From Kaihan’s Biwakohama Ōtsu Station (びわ湖浜大津駅) to Ōtsu Port, it is a 3-minute walk.
  • From JR’s Ōtsu Station (大津駅), it is a 15-minute walk.
    • You can also take a bus and get off at Hama Ōtsu (浜大津). From there, it is just a 3-minute walk to the port.

☛ Check with the ticket office to see if Mii-dera’s admission ticket will still give you a discount for the cruise fare (or the other way around).
☛ If you hold one of the valid Keihan’s Osaka and Kyoto One-Day sightseeing Ticket (京阪電車 大阪・京都1日観光チケット), show your ticket to get a discount for the cruise fare. Refer HERE for a list of other attractions that you can get a discount for and translate it to English with Google Chrome’s translation function at the right of the address bar.

Click HERE to return to a list of attractions in Ōtsu.

Biwako Flower Fountain (びわこ花噴水)

If you happen to be around Ōtsu Port around dinner time, head to the port to see if the water and light show is on at Biwako Flower Fountain!

Ⓒ びわこビジターズビューロー

Over the 180-meter breakwater, the fountain will eject water beams that reach as high as 40 meters. With water ejecting from 11 openings, the fountain covers the longest distance horizontally in the world.

The water fountain operates almost every night except the second and the fourth Wednesday of each month for maintenance. The show may be on during the day as well.

Important: The show won’t be on if the weather conditions are not ideal.

Tip: You can enjoy the show by boarding the Michigan Cruiseship.

Biwako Flower Fountain’s Operation Hours and Access Information

Important: Biwako Flower Fountain’s water and lighting show is temporarily suspended due to equipment failure.

  • The water fountain’s operation hours vary depending on the time of the year ranging from 6 pm to 9 pm. For the exact hours, please refer to the schedule HERE. If the link doesn’t work, please refer to HERE and translate the webpage to English by Google Chrome’s translation function at the right of the address bar.
    • The blue table is for weekdays, and the orange table is for weekends and public holidays.
  • From Keihan’s Biwakohama-Ōtsu Station (びわ湖浜大津駅), it is around a 3-minute walk.

Click HERE to return to a list of attractions in Ōtsu.

Ōmi Jingū Shrine (近江神宮)

You probably would assume that all the shrines in Japan at least have a couple of centuries of history. But Ōmi Jingū, close to Lake Biwa in Ōtsu City, isn’t the case!

Ⓒ びわ湖大津観光協会

Although the shrine was only erected in 1940, the shrine’s location and the god enshrined here hold some important history of Japan dating back to the mid-7th century.

Recently, the shrine became even more well-known because the movie of a popular Japanese comic – Chihayafuru (ちはやふる), was filmed here.

For more information, please refer to our article on Ōmi Jingū!

Click HERE to return to a list of attractions in Ōtsu.

Biwako Ōtsu-kan (びわ湖大津館)

After you visit Ōmi Jingū, you can head towards Lake Biwa to check out the Biwako Ōtsu-kan.

In 1934, the main building of Lake Biwa Hotel (旧琵琶湖ホテル本館) was completed as Shiga Prefecture’s first international tourist hotel to attract more foreign tourists. Up until 1998, before the hotel moved to the modern building at Hama Ōtsu (浜大津), it had been where many Japanese and foreign celebrities, including the Emperor Showa, stayed when they visited Lake Biwa.

Ⓒ びわこビジターズビューロー

The prestigious hotel has a traditional appearance of Momoyama style. But as soon as you walk into the hotel, it is like entering a facility in a Western country in the early 20th century.

Before you step into the building, take a look at the roof tiles. The Oniwara (鬼瓦) is a roof ornamentation commonly found in traditional Japanese buildings. They are there to keep the evil spirits out.

In the lobby, what might catch your attention is the old-style elevator that uses needles to display the stopping floor. From the third floor, you will get a wide view of Lake Biwa.

Also, in the display room, photos of celebrities who were once a guest of the hotel are hung on the wall.

Biwako Ōtsu-kan’s Gorgeous Garden

In front of Biwako Ōtsu-kan, the front garden is divided into different zones. Each zone has a different style and different flowers bloom according to the seasons. But the main character is the roses. Here is where Shiga Prefecture’s largest rose garden is located. You will find around 3,000 rose plants of about 300 different species here!

Ⓒ びわ湖大津観光協会
Ⓒ びわ湖大津観光協会

In winter, illumination shows are held after sunset.

Then, you can leave this area by hopping onto the Michigan Cruiseship to get to the attractions around Ōtsu Port (obviously, check out the departure time of the cruise first).

Tip: You can also rent out a bicycle to tour around the city from Biwako Ōtsu-kan.

Biwako Ōtsu-kan’s Opening Hours, Admission Fee, and Access Information

  • The facility is open from 9 am to 10 pm.
    • The reception is open from 9 am to 7:30 pm.
  • The admission fee to their garden is
    • 330 yen for adults
    • 160 yen for elementary and junior high school students as well as the elderly 65 years old and above
  • From JR Ōtsukyō Station (大津京駅) or Keihan’s Ōmi-Jingu-mae Station (近江神宮前駅), it is around a 15-minute walk.
  • You can also take a bus bound for Katata (堅田) from JR Ōtsukyō Station (大津京駅) or Keihan’s Biwako Hamaōtsu Station (びわ湖浜大津駅) and get off at Yanagasaki (柳が崎).

Click HERE to return to a list of attractions in Ōtsu.

Ōjigaoka Park (皇子が丘公園)

From mid to late March, before you head away to other parts of the city, remember to stop by Ōjigaoka Park, close to Ōtsukyō Station (大津京駅), to admire the pink flowers of the 300 or so cherry trees.

In autumn, the foliage color will start changing at the end of October. If you are around the area from mid-November to early December, it is also a great destination for autumn foliage hunting!

How to Get to Ōjigaoka Park

From JR Ōtsukyō Station (大津京駅) Keihan Ōtsukyō Station (京阪大津京駅), it is a 5-minute walk.

Click HERE to return to a list of attractions in Ōtsu.

Karasaki no Matsu (唐崎の松) and Karasaki Shrine (唐崎神社)

North of the Ōtsukyō area, at a small cape, there is a famous sacred pine tree on the precinct of Karasaki Shrine that was chosen to be one of the Eight Views of Ōmi (近江八景).

Ⓒ びわ湖大津観光協会

The view of Karasaki no Yau (唐崎夜雨) refers to the rainy scenery at the cape in the evening. The pine tree has branches and leaves flourishing in all directions, making it a good spot for rain shelter.

The tree was first planted in around 633 but collapsed during a strong wind in 1573. Its second generation was planted in 1591 by the lord of Ōtsu Castle. In the late 19th century, it became a huge pine tree with branches stretching more than 70 meters in all directions.

The current tree was planted using the seedling of the 2nd generation pine tree in 1887 as a successor. The Karasaki-matsu in Kanazawa’s Kenrokuen Garden (兼六園) was also planted from a seedling from the same tree.

When you visit this sacred tree, it probably won’t be as magnificent as it used to be.

The 3rd generation has many branches cut off to treat its illness to prolong its life. Around the 3rd generation, saplings and seedlings from the sacred tree were also planted in 2020 as successors.

Ⓒ びわ湖大津観光協会

How to Get to Karasaki no Matsu and Karasaki Shrine

From JR Karasaki Station (唐崎駅), it is around a 10-minute walk.

Click HERE to return to a list of attractions in Ōtsu.

Sakamoto Area (坂本)

The Sakamoto Area (坂本) is at the foot of Mt. Hiei. In the good old days, this is where the monks of Mt. Hiei’s Enryakuji lived after their “retirement”. Shaping by all the Satobō (里坊), the town has a unique townscape, especially with the ocean-like Lake Biwa sitting on its right.

For more information, please refer to our article on Sakamoto!


Mt. Hiei (比叡山)

Mt. Hiei or Hieizan (比叡山) is one of the Three Holiest Places in Japan. The worship halls and pagodas of the World Heritage – Enryakuji Temple are scattered throughout the mountain. The temple is the headquarters of Japan’s Tendai sect and has nurtured well-respected monks in Japanese history.

To find out more about this sacred destination, please refer to our article on Mt. Hiei!

Mangetsu-ji Temple Ukimi-dō (満月寺 浮御堂)

Another Eight Views of Ōmi (近江八景) is located in northern Ōtsu close to Biwako Bridge (琵琶湖大橋). The view of the worship hall sticking out of Lake Biwa is known as Wild Geese Returning Home at Katata (Katata no Rakugan, 堅田落雁). Because of its fame, it is a spot visited by many famous Japanese poets, including Matsuo Bashō (松尾芭蕉) from the Edo period.

The formal name of Ukimi-dō is Kaimonsan Mantetsu-ji (海門山 満月寺). It belongs to Rinzai sect’s (臨済宗) Daitoku-ji (大徳寺).

Ⓒ びわこビジターズビューロー

The view chosen to be one of the Eight Views of Ōmi in the Muromachi period (1336 – 1573) is when the geese fly across the sky above Ukimi-dō.

The Founding of Ukimi-dō

Ⓒ びわこビジターズビューロー

The temple has a deep connection with the Enryakuji Temple in Mt. Hiei. It was founded by Eshinsōzu Genshin (恵心僧都源信), who is the founder of Japan’s Pure Land sect. During Genshin’s time at Enryakuji, he founded the Eshin-dō Hall (恵心堂) in the Yokawa area. It is where he completed many books and guidance that laid the foundation of the Pure Land sect.

The legend goes that when Genshin was training in Yokawa at the end of the 11th century, he noticed one part of the surface of Lake Biwa was shining. Wondering why, he went down Mt. Hiei and arrived at where Ukimi-dō is today. A golden Amida Buddha appeared as he tried to scoop the object with a net. Taking this as a message from the Buddha, he established Ukimi-dō to pray for a good afterlife for the fish in Lake Biwa that became someone’s meal.

Furthermore, ships capsize frequently because strong winds are blowing from Mt. Hiei. So the worship hall is also a place to pray for the safety of those who set sail on Lake Biwa.

Inside Ukimi-dō

The worship hall standing above Lake Biwa has 1,000 Amida Buddha statues enshrined. The statues collectively known as Sentaibutsu (千体仏) were all curved by Genshin. Why 1,000, you ask? It is because two statues are always better than one, and three are better than two. The more statues you make, the more chances that someone may encounter the image of Buddha, and therefore the more benefits you will get from making them.

The current Ukimi-dō was restored in 1937 after a typhoon destroyed it in 1934. Although you won’t be able to see all 1,000 Buddha statues, you will still see many of them when you peek into the hall (^_-)-☆.

Also, although hidden, statues of Kannon Bodhisattva (an Important Cultural Property) and the healing Buddha – Yakushi Nyorai (薬師如来) are also enshrined inside the worship hall.

Recommended Photography Spots

Rather than just taking photos from Ukimi-dō, you can also get a photo of the worship hall with Lake Biwa and the mountains afar.

A good spot is from Honkatata Lakeshore Green Area (本堅田湖岸緑地) at the south of the temple.

One thing to keep in mind is there are some places where the foothold isn’t as good. So watch your steps when you get there.

Also, if you plan to head there at dawn or night, remember to bring a flashlight.

A similar green area is also at the north of the temple. Although it may be a bit confusing to get there, following the small alleys in between the private houses in the area, you should be able to get to the shore eventually.

A great time for a photography session is just before the sun appears from the horizon when the sky brightens.

Ukimi-dō’s Opening Hours, Admission Fees, and Access Information

  • The opening hours of Ukimi-dō are from 8 am to 5 pm.
  • The admission fee is 300 yen.
  • From JR Katata Station’s (堅田駅) bus stop no. 2 at the west exit, take Kōjaku Bus (江若バス)’s Katata Town Loops Bus (堅田町内循環) and get off at Katatademachi (堅田出町). From the bus stop, it is around a 5-minute walk.
    • On weekends and public holidays, the bus will stop at Ukimi-dō-mae (浮御堂前), making it more convenient.
    • HERE is the timetable for you to refer to. Please use the bus stops’ Japanese name to read.

Click HERE to return to a list of attractions in Ōtsu.

Biwako Terrace (びわ湖テラス)

At the west shore of Lake Biwa on the Hira mountain range (比良山系), the Biwako Valley (びわ湖バレイ), situated at an elevation of 1,100 meters, is a famous ski resort in Kansai. From spring to autumn, it is also a well-known mountain resort.

In July 2016, a long-waited observatory called Biwako Terrace (びわ湖テラス) was opened!

The facility isn’t an ordinary lookout. It also has a couple of exciting things to do there, such as a zip line.

For more information, refer to our article on Biwako Terrace!

Click HERE to return to a list of attractions in Ōtsu.

Seta no Karahashi Bridge (瀬田の唐橋)

The Seta River (瀬田川), south of Lake Biwa, is the only waterway from which the lake’s water can flow. The river stretches all the way to Kyoto and Osaka and has a 260-meter bridge built across it close to Lake Biwa. Not only is the bridge an important military and transportation hub, but it is also where you can find one of the Eight Views of Ōmi (近江八景).

The stunning sunset from where the bridge is located is known as the Evening Glow at Seta (Seta no Sekishō, 瀬田夕照), making it the perfect place to end your visit to Ōtsu City.

As a side note, the view of sunrise from the bridge is also worth checking out (^_-)-☆.

This bridge is also known as one of the Three Oldest and Most Famous Bridges in Japan (日本三古橋/日本三大名橋).

Although the catchphrase says Japan, it is probably more accurate to say the three famous bridges of Kyoto. The other two bridges are the Uji Bridge (宇治橋) and Yamazaki Bridge (山崎橋) in Kyoto. Whilst Seta no Karahashi Bridge is in Shiga, it has a deep connection with Kyoto. The safest way to enter Kyoto from the east was by crossing this bridge in the good old days.


Seta no Karahashi Bridge and the Waka Poem

Whilst the fastest way to get to Kyoto from the east of Shiga Prefecture is to hop onto a boat and cross Lake Biwa, the boat’s speed can be slowed significantly by the strong wind blowing from Mt Hiei. This is why a waka poem has it as if you are in a hurry, although a boat from Yabase (矢橋) is fast, cross the long bridge in Seta (武士(もののふ) の矢橋の舟は速けれど 急がば回れ 瀬田の長橋). The poem is also where the Japanese idiom – Isogaba Maware (急がば回れ) originated.

Because Seta no Karahashi Bridge is the only bridge crossing the Seta River, it has long been an important line of defence for Kyoto. So the person who controls Seta no Karahashi Bridge controls the country. This is why many civil wars took place around this bridge.

The Current Seta no Karahashi Bridge

The leader who moved Seta no Karahashi Bridge to the current location is the famous warrior – Oda Nobunaga (織田信長). Instead of a bridge leading straight to the river’s other side, the bridge is broken into two parts with a small island in the middle. With Nobunaga’s order, Seta Castle’s lord – Yamaoka Kagetaka (山岡景隆), completed the bridge in 90 days.

Ⓒ びわ湖大津観光協会=

However, that bridge was also burnt down by Yamaoka during the Honnō-ji Incident (本能寺の変) in an attempt to stop Akechi Mitsuhide and his army. With a strong determination to take down the Azuchi Castle (安土城), it is said that Akechi swiftly rebuilt the bridge and proceeded further.

Of course, the bridge was inevitably destroyed whenever there was a war. The current Seta no Karahashi Bridge was rebuilt with concrete in 1979. Considering the surrounding scenery, the bridge was painted in cream color, making it look like a wooden bridge from afar.

Another feature of Seta no Karahashi Bridge is the ornamental caps (Giboshi, 擬宝珠) at the top of the baluster. They might all look the same to you, but the characters curved on the caps differ if you look closer. Each is engraved with an era, such as Meiji (明治), Shōwa (昭和), or Heisei (平成). The one dated back to the Sengoku period is also engraved with a title.

How to Get to Seta no Karahashi Bridge

From Keihan’s Karahashi-mae Station (唐橋前駅), it is a 5-minute walk.

Click HERE to return to a list of attractions in Ōtsu.

Takebe Shrine (建部大社)

Takebe Shrine, close to Seta no Karahashi Bridge, is Ōmi Province’s most important shrine. The shrine has Yamato Takeru no Mikoto (日本武尊) enshrined in the main shrine. Born in 72 AD, Yamato Takeru was probably Emperor Keikō’s (景行天皇) most competent son after he expanded the territory under the imperial court’s control.

The shrine was formally established in 675. His wife is also enshrined with him with a wooden statue of her placed in the precinct, which is said to be curved in the Heian period (794 – 1185). The statue is now an Important National Cultural Property.

In the Heian period, when Minamoto no Yoritomo (源頼朝) was exiled to Izu, he made a prayer at Takebe Shrine for him to revive the power of his clan. His prayer was granted that in 1190, he became a general. So people come to the shrine to pray for career promotion and success.

When you get to the shrine, you will also notice a board with an enlarged version of a 1,000 yen note.

In 1945, straight after the end of World War Two, Japan’s first 1,000 yen note was issued. At the time, it was the highest denomination banknote in the country. Proudly printed on the note is Yamato Takeru no Mikoto.

As the note was only in the market for seven months, the number of notes issued was extremely low. This is why the banknote is now referred to as a dreamlike 1,000 yen banknote (幻の千円札).

Takebe Shrine’s Opening Hours and Access Information

  • The shrine’s office is open from 9 am to 4 pm.
  • From Keihan’s Karahashi-Mae Station (唐橋前駅), is around a 15-minute walk.
  • From Seta no Karahashi Bridge, it is around a 10-minute walk.
  • You can also take a bus from JR Ishiyama Station (石山駅) and get off at Takebe Taisha-mae (建部大社前).
    • If you choose to walk, it will be around 30 minutes.

Click HERE to return to a list of attractions in Ōtsu.

Ishiyama-dera Temple (石山寺)

Ⓒ びわ湖大津観光協会

Traveling further down from Seta no Karahashi Bridge, the Ishiyama-dera is a temple with a long history. It was constructed under the order of Emperor Shōmu (聖武天皇) in 761 by a revered monk called Ryōben Sōjō (良弁僧正) from Nara’s Tōdaiji.

The temple is one of the three Kannon sanctuaries in the Heian period (the other two are Kyoto’s Kiyomizu-dera (清水寺) and Nara’s Hase-dera (長谷寺)). It is also the 13th temple of the 33 Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage.

If you get to visit the temple at night, you can also see one of the Eight Views of Ōmi (近江八景).

For more information, please refer to our article on Ishiyama-dera!

Iwama-dera Temple (岩間寺)

If you are driving, you can stop by Iwama-dera Temple after you visit Ishiyama-dera. It is the 12th temple on the 33 Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage.

Not only is the temple rich in history, but it is also a great destination for autumn foliage hunting. In particular, the gigantic ginkgo tree, more than 450 years old, is the best attraction in the precinct when its leaves turn golden in autumn.

For more information, please refer to our article on Iwama-dera!

Ⓒ びわこビジターズビューロー

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Discover the Fascinating Attractions in Takashima City

Click the photo to find out about all the great attractions in Takashima City!

North of Otsu City, Takashima City is another part of Shiga Prefecture, with attractions that are as awesome as Otsu.

You won’t want to miss out on this destination if you love to visit places with stunning scenery and unique landscapes.

For more information, please refer to our article on Takashima City!

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