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Ōtsu 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 a capitol 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 and the city had a population of 341,684 and a population density of 740 persons per km². Ōtsu covers an area of 464.10 square kilometres (179.19 sq mi) as of November 1, 2012.
Ōtsu is home to numerous museums. The Shiga Prefectural Lake Biwa Culture Museum, founded in 1948, has exhibits on the culture of the Lake Biwa region. The Museum of Modern Art, Shiga, was founded in 1984 and is located in the Setaminamigaya-chō district of the city. The Ōtsu City Museum of History houses exhibits on the history of the city, as well as operating as a repository for cultural assets of Ōtsu. The museum is in the central Goryo-chō district directly north of Mii-dera.
The city is home to two major libraries. The Shiga Prefectural Library, which houses approximately 1.2 million volumes, is located in the Setaminamigaya-chō district and operates as the central prefectural library. The library opened in 1943. The Ōtsu Municipal Library operates as a general public library for the city. The Municipal Library has a main building in the Hama-Ōtsu district, as well as three branch libraries and several bookmobiles.