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Otsu City

Otsu is host to some of Japan’s most beautiful views. Just a short day trip from Kyoto, it's worth a visit.

Just a short train ride away from Kyoto is the beautiful lakeside city of Otsu, in Shiga Prefecture. As the principal port for many of the numerous cruises around Lake Biwa, Japan’s largest landlocked body of water, Otsu is host to some of Japan’s most beautiful views. Along the waterfront you will find a plethora of onsen hotels, traditional ryokan inns and plenty of other accommodation options.

The various rocky outcrops and forested areas that encircle Lake Biwa also present a variety of hiking trails for all ages and ability levels.

Chief among these is the famous “Konze Alps” Hiking trail, which runs from Kami Kiryu, a short bus ride from Kusatsu Station, 10 minutes along the JR line from Otsu.

The trail takes you in a circle covering 12 kilometers and with an elevation of around 500 meters. This  intermediate level hike takes around five-to-seven hours to complete. Along the way, you’ll find some Buddhist monuments, forested areas and excellent open views of the lakeside below. However, be conscious of the weather when you hike. Watch out for hornets in the summer, and slippery icy patches in the winter.


The highlight of any trip to Otsu has to be a cruise around Lake Biwa. For those who enjoy a cruise there are several options. Undoubtedly the most famous ship for cruising around Biwako is The Michigan.

Don’t be fooled by the name.

The Michigan is an old style paddle steamer, emulating the classical design both inside and out.  Depending on your choice of cruise, you can enjoy a 60 minute, 90 minute or 2 hour adventure. The night cruise is especially memorable, not just for the views, but also for the food and live shows on offer. Check out this website for more information on Michigan cruises.

Check out more inspiring locales in our Japanese Cities section.

Things To Know


Depending on the cruise, the average price is about ¥2,700 for adults, ¥2,200 for students and ¥1,300 for children.

How To Get There


3-3 Goryōchō, Ōtsu-shi, Shiga-ken 520-0037, Japan

By train

From JR Kyoto Station, take the Biwako Line headed towards Maibara and get off at Otsu Station. The journey takes less than 10 minutes. The lakeside is a 10 minute walk downhill from the station.

Where To Stay

Biwako Hotel
  • 2-40 Hamamachi, Otsu-shi, Shiga, 520-0041 Japan
  • ¥20,800 - ¥149,000
  • 4.49/5 (1,974 reviews)
  • 1.6 km
Hotel Tetora Otsu Kyoto
  • 1-1-1 Osaka, Otsu-shi, Shiga, 520-0054 Japan
  • ¥7,800 - ¥63,000
  • 3.73/5 (2,952 reviews)
  • 2.0 km
Lake Biwa Otsu Prince Hotel
  • 4-7-7 Otsupurinsuhoteru, Otsu-shi, Shiga, 520-8520 Japan
  • ¥17,451 - ¥330,451
  • 4.25/5 (3,925 reviews)
  • 3.6 km
Koke Musu Inn
  • 17-19 Kinoshitacho, Otsu-shi, Shiga, 520-0812 Japan
  • ¥12,000 - ¥42,667
  • 5/5 (6 reviews)
  • 3.9 km
Kyoto Yamashina Hotel Sanraku
  • 23 Anshu Sajikicho, Kyoto-shi Yamashina-ku, Kyoto, 607-8012 Japan
  • ¥8,300 - ¥45,900
  • 4.58/5 (417 reviews)
  • 4.4 km

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