Otsu city (大津市) is the capital of Shiga prefecture (滋賀県), with a population of over 340,000 people. The heart of the city is the area between Otsu station and Ishiyama station. The area in front of Otsu station is the business and governmental centre, home to municipal, prefectural and national government offices. This is a busy urban centre. This is also where our English conversation school (スミス英会話大津校) is located, right in front of Otsu station, between Shiga Building (滋賀ビル) and Lake Biwa National Government Building (琵琶湖大津合同庁舎). In this concrete jungle, in this bureaucratic hub, where can a person go for a little peace and quiet?
Tenson Shrine (天孫神社) is located less than 200 meters from Otsu station. Though small, it is a little oasis in the middle of the city. Built over 1200 years ago, the shrine has 2 gates, a central stage, and dozens of trees packed into the tiny grounds. In April, the trees show their true colours, i.e. pink, as the cherry blossoms are on display. Many business people enjoy a stroll through the shrine after work, or lunch on a bench under the overhanging cherry blossoms. This is truly a magical place. This is truly the most peaceful place in Otsu.
When our first son was 100 days old, we went to Tenson Shrine for a special ceremony. Recently, when our second son was 30 days old, we took him there for his first shrine visit. Once a month there is a market held at the shrine. Every year, Otsu Festival is centred around Tenson Shrine and all of the parade floats pass right in front of it’s main gate. Wedding groups go to Tenson for photo shoots, professional photographers take pictures there. This is a really picturesque shrine, encapsulating so much culture and beauty within such a compact space. I love it!