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Location of Ōtsu in Shiga Prefecture
|• Mayor||Naomi Koshi|
|• Total||464.51 km2 (179.35 sq mi)|
|Population (October 1, 2015)|
|• Density||730/km2 (1,900/sq mi)|
|• Tree||Prunus serrulata|
|• Flower||Viola eizanensis|
|• Bird||Black-headed gull|
|Time zone||Japan Standard Time (UTC+9)|
|City hall address||3-1 Goryō-chō, Ōtsu-shi, Shiga-ken
Ōtsu (大津市 Ōtsu-shi?) is the capital city of Shiga Prefecture, Japan. Ōtsu is known as the main port of Lake Biwa, the largest lake in Japan. It briefly served as the capital of Japan from 667 to 672 AD during the Asuka period (538 – 710). The city is home to numerous sites of historical importance, notably the temples of Mii-dera, Ishiyama-dera, and Enryaku-ji and the Hiyoshi Taisha shrine. Enryaku-ji is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site "Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto (Kyoto, Uji and Otsu Cities)". Ōtsu was incorporated as a city on October 1, 1898.
Ōtsu is located at the southwest of Shiga Prefecture. The city is "L"-shaped and stretches along the southwest shore of Lake Biwa, Japan's largest lake. Ōtsu ranges from the densely populated alluvium depressions near the shore of Lake Biwa to sparsely populated hilly and mountainous areas to the west (Hira Mountains and Mount Hiei) and south of the city.
Lake Biwa, the largest freshwater lake in Japan, covers 673.9 square kilometres (260.2 sq mi) and is located at the center of the Shiga Prefecture. The north part of the lake reaches a depth of 50 metres (160 ft), and the south part of the lake near Ōtsu is much shallower and reaches a depth of 5 metres (16 ft). Lake Biwa provides water for the industrial areas of the Kansai Region, irrigation and drinking water in the Shiga area. The lake has been a travel destination since ancient times, and continues to support the tourism industry of the prefecture. The lake is protected as part of Biwako Quasi-National Park. Lake Biwa is home to the Lake Biwa Marathon, which started in Osaka in 1946, and moved to Lake Biwa in 1962. It is considered to be the oldest marathon in Japan.
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