Visit historical places with beautiful lake views.

Our area and the southern part of Lake Biwa were loved by Matsuo Basho, a haiku poet of the Edo period (1603-1868), who visited this area many times.

 In the area surrounding Nagian, there is Genjūan, where Matsuo Basho rested after writing the “Narrow Road to the Deep North,” and Gichu-ji Temple, where his corpse is laid to rest.

Fan fact! Lake Biwa is actually a river!!

Although Lake Biwa is called the “Mother Lake,” it is not actually a lake under the law, but rather a class 1st river, Lake Biwa. When viewed as a river, it looks completely different.
Lake Biwa is the largest freshwater lake in Japan, but it is also an ancient lake that settled in its present location 400,000 years ago. Ancient lakes are those that were formed more than 100,000 years ago, and there are only a few of them in the world, with Lake Biwa being the only one in Japan. Lake Biwa is also home to approximately 100 living creatures, including 60 endemic species that live only in Lake Biwa.

Lake Biwa Otsu Prince Hotel

1 min walk

The hotel is directly next to Nagisa-an on the right side after leaving Nagisa-an. A landmark hotel in Otsu. All rooms have a spectacular lake view. 


Otsu Lakeside Nagisa Park

4 mins walk

 This is the park from which the name “Nagisa-an” originated. This lakeside park stretches about 5 km along the shore of Lake Biwa from Gotengaama to Nionohama and Uchidehama. The park is ideal for walking, cycling, and bass fishing, and the scenery is spectacular, making it refreshing just to watch the water sparkle in the sunlight.


Michigan cruise

5 mins walk

Walking out from Nagisa-an to the lakeshore, you will find “Nionohama tourism Port”, the landing place of the Lake Biwa cruise ship “Michigan”. You can board from the pier in front of the Lake Biwa Otsu Prince Hotel. Many people dine at Nagisa-an before or after their cruise on Lake Biwa.


Gichu-ji Temple

5 mins by car

The temple where Kiso Yoshinaka and Matsuo Basho are buried. Kiso Yoshinaka (Minamoto no Yoshinaka) was killed by Yoshitsune at Awazu near Nagisa-an on the orders of Yoritomo. After his death, Tomoe Gozen, his mistress, built a small hermitage near Yoshinaka’s grave and called herself “I am a nameless woman” and made daily offerings to him. The haiku poet Matsuo Basho, who loved the temple and the people there, often visited the temple and held haiku gatherings there. Basho died in Osaka, but was buried next to Yoshinaka’s grave at Gichu-ji Temple in October 1694, in accordance with his last wish that his body should be sent to Kisozuka. There are many Basho flowers in the temple.


Genju-an (Japanese hermitage)

15 mins by car

This hermitage was built in the mountains of Ishiyama by Genju, the uncle of Suganuma Kyokusui, a haiku poet who was a student of Basho. After his journey along the “Narrow Road to the Deep North,” Basho stayed there from April to July 1690 to rest his body and soul. “Genju-an Ki” (“幻住庵記”) is a record of Basho’s life and impressions during his stay at Genju-an. The hermitage surrounded by vertebrate trees and the otherworldly serenity of the mountainside will surely soothe your soul. You can feel his passion through visiting there.


Seta no Karahashi Bridge

10 mins by car

Seta no Karahashi Bridge in Seta, one of the “Three Famous Bridges in Japan”. It is said, “Whoever controls Karabashi Bridge controls the whole country.” During the Warring States period (1467-1568), it was a road leading to Kyoto. Therefore, it became the scene of numerous battles. The bridge is also famous for the episode that gave rise to the phrase, “haste makes waste” (in Japanese, 急がば回れ). The current bridges, which existed as big and small, were constructed by Oda Nobunaga.


Takebe Taisha Shrine

10 mins by car

 It is said to be the oldest shrine in Omi, and is one of the oldest shrines in Japan with a long and venerable history. The deity is Yamato Takeru (日本武尊). At the end of the Heian period, Minamoto no Yoritomo was caught by the Heike clan and on his way to Izu, he stopped by Takebe Taisha to pray for the revival of the Minamoto clan. After his wish was successfully granted, he became revered as the god of war. There is a wooden statue of a goddess said to be the consort of Yamato Takeru, made in the Heian period (794-1185). Together with a stone lantern in the shrine yard, it is designated as an important cultural property.


Ishiyama-Dera temple

15 mins by car

 The shrine was built in 747 on the right bank of the Seta River, the only river flowing out of Lake Biwa, and has carved out 1300 years of history along with the flow of that river. This shrine is registered as a Japanese Heritage Site. 
In the Heian period (1004), Murasaki Shikibu made a seven-day visit to Ishiyama-Dera Temple to compose a new story in response to a request from the prince of the time, to read a new story. At that time, looking at the beautiful moon on the surface of Lake Biwa on the night of the 15th night, she conceived of a scene in which a nobleman, who had been exiled from the capital to Suma, looks at the moon and misses the capital, and wrote down “Tonight is the night of the 15th night”, which is said to be the beginning of “The Tale of Genji”. Ishiyama-Dera Temple was the place where the literature of the Heian period began, as it appears in other literary works such as “Pillow Book”, “Dragonfly Diary”, and “Sarashina Diary”. In the precincts of the temple, there is a “Genji no Ma” (Room of Genji) between the main hall and the Ai room, where Murasaki Shikibu, the author of “The Tale of Genji”, is recreated by dolls.

I WANDERED forth this moonlight night,
  And some one hurried by;
But who it was I could not see,—
  Clouds driving o’er the sky
  Obscured the moon on high..

By Murasaki Shikibu

めぐり逢ひて 見しやそれとも わかぬ間に 雲がくれにし 夜半の月かな. 紫式部


Setagawa Araizeki Canal Gate

20 mins by car

The weir was constructed on the Seta River in 1905 to control the water level of the lake and for flood control measures for the downstream Uji and Yodo River basins, triggered by the great flood that occurred in 1896. The current wash weir, the second generation, was completed in 1961 and consists of 10 motorized sluice gates with a total length of 173 m. The brick pillars of the original wash weir remain on both banks a little upstream as a memorial.


The gate of Osaka and Semimaru Shrine

10 mins by car

Semimaru is famous for his Hyakunin Isshu (百人一首), which is a collection of 100 specimens of Japanese Tanka poetry collected in the 13th Century C.E., with some of the poems dating back to the 7th Century. Tanka is a 31-syllable format in the pattern 5-7-5-7-7. Semimaru was a master biwa player of the Heian period. Despite being blind, he was revered as the god of music. Semimaru Shrine, dedicated to Semimaru, is located on Mt. Osaka on the border of Shiga and Kyoto prefectures. The barrier of Osaka is mentioned in three poems in the Hyakunin Isshu.

THE stranger who has travelled far,
  The friend with welcome smile,
All sorts of men who come and go
  Meet at this mountain stile,—
 They meet and rest awhile.

By Semi Maru

これやこの 行くも帰るも 別れては 知るも知らぬも 逢坂の関

HEAR thou art as modest as
 The little creeping spray
Upon Mount Ōsaka, which hides
  Beneath the grass; then, pray,
  Wander with me to-day.

By The minister of the Right of the Sanjo

名にし負はば 逢坂山のさねかづら 人に知られでくるよしもがな

Too long to-night you’ve lingered here,
  And, though you imitate
The crowing of a cock, ‘twill not
  Unlock the tollbar gate;
  Till daylight must you wait.

By the lady Sei 

夜をこめて 鳥の空音は はかるとも よに逢坂の 関はゆるさじ


The Otsu-e shop

10 mins by car

 Even today, Otsu-e can be viewed and purchased at the “Otsu-e Shop” owned by the fifth Otsu-e master, Mr. Shozan Takahashi. Otsu-e is a typical local souvenir of Otsu and was sold to people on the road from the beginning of the Edo period in the Otani and Oiwake areas beyond Mt. Osaka. Otsu-e has a unique flavor with its free, bold, and powerful lines and vivid colors such as vermilion, ochre, and black. It was an art form that grew up among the people (folk painting, popular painting), and as Basho (the Tanka poet) said in his haiku, “What Buddha was the first brush stroke of Otsu-e?” At first, there were many Buddhist paintings of Amida Buddha and the thirteen Buddhas. During the Meiji period (1868-1912), with the opening of the Tokaido Line, Otsu-e declined for a time as traffic on the highway declined, but it was successfully revived by the first Shozan Takahashi and is now handed down by the fifth Shozan Takahashi.


Mii-Dera Temple

15 mins driving

 The head temple of the Tendai Teramon sect. There is a sacred spring in the precincts of the temple, which is said to have been used as a birth water for the three emperors Tenchi, Temmu, and Jito. The temple is famous for its cherry blossoms in spring and autumn leaves in fall.


Oumi Jingu shrine

20 mins by car

Oumi Jingu Shrine, dedicated to Emperor Tenchi, the founder of the Otsu-Kyo Capital, is famous for the Japanese card game, Karuta and hosts a competition for the best competitive karuta players in Japan. It was also the filming location for the movie “Chihayafuru. Emperor Tenchi also installed Japan’s first water clock “Leakage” in 671.

  They’re busy reaping grain ;
I sought for shelter ’neath this roof,
  But fear I sought in vain,—
  My sleeve is wet with rain.

By the Emperor Tenchi

〈百人一首・第1番〉「秋の田の かりほのいほの とまをあらみ わが衣手は 露にぬれつつ 」