Zenkoji Temple : 善光寺
The Legendary Temple at the Heart of Nagano City
Founded 1400 years ago, Zenkoji Temple houses a sacred image of Amida Triad Sharing One Halo and is deeply revered by the Japanese people. The image is completely hidden and a replica of it is put on display once every 6 years during a two-month long event known as Gokaicho (next is in 2021). In Zenkoji’s main hall, for an admission fee visitors can enter the inner sanctuary as well as do the O-Kaidan Meguri -- descend into a pitch-black, completely-dark corridor to search for the “key to paradise” that is located directly under the sacred image. If you find the key, it is believed you will be granted salvation.
During the 1998 Nagano Olympics, Zenkoji’s bell rang out to pray for world peace.
The approach to the temple passes through the Sanmon Gate (built in 1750, designated an Important Cultural Property, offers a viewpoint on its 2nd floor) and Niomon Gate, and is lined by a myriad of shops and restaurants. On either side of the main approach are side streets lined by ‘shukubo’ temple lodging. They continue to be popular today especially by visitors wanting to participate in the early-morning Oasaji ceremony where the top priest(ess) imparts blessings on the attendees.
- Hours :
- Summer: 04:30-16:30; Winter 06:00-16:00 (some variance by season)
- Date(s) :
- Open Year-Round 28-Dec 06:00-08:00 Main Hall only, 31-Dec 06:00-13:00
- Entrance Price :
- Entrance to Sanmon Gate adults 500, high school 200, elementary and middle school 50 yen.
Inner Sanctuary Ticket (entrance to tatami mat section and O-Kaidan Meguri in Main Hall and Zenkoji History Museum) adults 500, high school 200, elementary and middle school 50 yen.
- Time Required :
- 60-90 min.
- Reservations :
- Not required
- Capacity :
- No limit
- Foreign Languages :
- (English brochures available.)
- Luggage Storage :
- Not Available
Certified volunteer guides available.
-Every weekend (Saturday, Sunday) and holiday
-From 10:00 to 15:00*
-Ask at the Komagaeri Bridge Information Center (part way up the cobblestone path on the left side).
-Languages: English and Chinese
*All guides may be out with other groups so none may immediately be available.
**Entrance to the Main Hall's Inner Sanctuary incl. O-Kaidan Meguri tour, Zenkoji Museum and Sanmon Gate cost extra.
tel : +81(0)26-234-3591 Official site
- By Train
- From Nagano Station(JR Hokuriku(Nagano) Shinkansen), From the Zenkoji exit, bus platform #1 (bound for Zenkoji), use the Zenkoji Daimon stop (approx. 15 min, 150 yen), then 5 min on foot.
- By Car
- From Nagano IC, 40 min
From Suzaka Nagano East IC, 40 min
- 491-i Nagano-Motoyoshicho, Nagano 380-0851
- St. Cousair's Winery & Vineyards : “Country Comfort” Winery and Garden Terrace
- Hokusaikan : Actual Works by Woodblock Print Master Hokusai
- Aratojo Castle Historical Park : Hilltop Fortress from the Warring States Era
- Matsukawa Gorge : Picturesque River Gorge with 3 Waterfalls and 8 Hot Springs Districts
- Uedajo Castle Ruin Park : Invincible Castle Famous for Twice Repulsing the Tokugawa Shogunate.
- Zenkoji Fuchinobo : Temple Lodging along Zenkoji's Main Approach, Famous for Vegetarian Shojin Cuisine.
- Nagano Shimizuya Ryokan : Traditional Ryokan 5-min Walk from Zenkoji Temple
- 1166 Backpackers at Zenkoji Temple : Small Guesthouse in an Old Temple Neighborhood
- Nagano Dai-Ichi Hotel : Business Hotel Minutes from Nagano Station, Famous for Free Soba Noodles at Breakfast.
- Hotel Metropolitan Nagano : Full-scale "Grand Hotel" Adjacent to Nagano Station.
- Yayoiza : Serving Nagano's Heritage Cuisine at the Entrance to Zenkoji.
- Ogawa-no-sho Daimon Shop : Nagano's Own Oyaki Dumplings Cooked on Coals on a Hearth.
- Monzen Machiya Gallery Juniten : 86-year old Renovated Machiya Near the Entrance to Zenkoji.
- Suyakame Main Store : Original Miso-Based Menu at Zenkoji's Original Miso Maker.
- Cafe Waraku : Pasta & Pancakes in a 'Kura' Storehouse.
- Guided Tour of Zenkoji Temple : Tour the Venerable Zenkoji Temple with the Knowledgeable Bonsho no Kai Volunteers.
- Togakure-ryu Ninja Training : Sneak a Peak into the World of Ninjas be a Lesson with a Togakure-do Master!
- Learning to Make Oyaki Dumplings Near Zenkoji : Make Oyaki Dumplings at Ogawa Village’s Zenkoji Shop.
- Learn How to Make Miso Paste : Learn How to Make Miso Paste at Nagano City’s Premier Miso-Maker Suyakame.
- Insect Cuisine : Are You Brave Enough to Try a Meal of Insects?