Activities - Activities

Zazen Meditation -- 5am Zazen at Kaigen-ji
Kaigen-ji : 開眼寺

Quiet Your Mind with 5am Zazen Meditation at Historical Kaigen-ji Temple.

Northern Nagano


Join Shibata-san, the English-speaking monk at Kaigen-ji Temple in Chikuma City, for his open-zazen sessions offered every morning at 5:00.


(Zazen meditation can be done any time, any place. But what makes doing zazen in Nagano unique is that the stillness of the countryside here lends itself perfectly to doing meditation. Plus, we have some rather unique zazen meditation sessions here for you to experience.)
In the Yawata area of Chikuma City, in a forested area along the feudal Zenkoji Kaido road between Matsumoto and Nagano City is Kaigan-ji Temple. “Kaigan” means “Open Your Eyes”. The name is somehow very appropriate for this temple. You see, it is #13 on the Shinshu (Nagano) 33 Fudashou Temple Pilgrimage and has a history of several hundred years. The main building is supposedly over 400 years old. However, times change, and even this grand temple fell into disuse.

Fortunately, a man named Shibata-san retired from a job overseas (he lived in America for decades), came back and moved into the temple. He started fixing up the place, bringing Kaigan-ji back to its original grandeur. In 2005, he built a special room for zazen. The temple’s eyes were truly opened!

Shibata-san does zazen meditation every morning at 5am, and welcomes anyone to attend. For beginners, he gladly gives a few pointers on zazen techniques. Meditation usually continues up to 6am including one break.

Often afterwards, Shibata-san invites guests for tea and a bit of talk about Buddhist philosophy, and/or a session at the ancient temple next door for sutra chants.


  • 10
  • 2
  • 20 people
5:00-6:00, or at other times by arrangement.
Meditation is also regularly offered Sunday nights 19:00-20:30.
Offered every day.
Cost / Price of Admission
Free, but making a small donation to the temple is good karma.
Time Required
30 min-1 hour
Not required(Suggested to verify Shibata-san's availability. Even if he is out, guests are free to do meditation.)
# of Participants
Foreign Languages


Shibata-san speaks basic English. Due to the early starting time, it is suggested to find accommodation nearby, such as at Togura-Kamiyamada Onsen.
Zazen meditation is training for a healthy spirit and body. Even doing it for 10 min a day is good for your health.
Beginners are welcome. Please contact in advance for basic instructions.
Experienced meditators can come any time.


tel : +81(0)26-272-5019fax : +81(0)26-272-5546Official site

Access / Location

By Train
From Yashiro Station (Shinano Railway), 15 min by taxi. Alternatively, from Obasute Station on the JR Shinonoi Line, approx. 15 min by taxi.
By Car
From Koshoku IC, go south 2.0km on Route 18 and turn right on to Route 403. Cross the Chikuma River, follow the bend to the left and at 3.0km ("Haruta Elementary School higashi"), bear right to continue on R403. At 2.4km, past the sake brewery, road bends left but take the small lane straight across the railroad tracks and the temple will be on the left in 150m.
57, Nakahara Yawata, Chikuma  387-0023

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