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Zenkō-ji Temple, Nagano

4.5
#1 of 79 in Things to do in Nagano
Religious Site Tourist Spot
One of the last remaining Buddhist pilgrimage sites in Japan, Zenkō-ji Temple draws worshippers seeking enlightenment from all over the country. Originally built in the 7th century, the temple compound stood before Japanese Buddhism was divided into sects, so priests of two different Buddhist schools share management of the shrine. The complex contains several gardens and buildings, including prayer rooms and a nunnery. The main temple holds a hidden Buddha statue that even the chief priest isn't allowed to view. Walk the pitch-black corridor under the temple to find and touch the hanging key of enlightenment. Our Nagano itinerary planner makes visiting Zenkō-ji Temple and other Nagano attractions simple, and helps you make a travel plan personal to you.
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4.6
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  • Distance long wild 幣 station take the gauge drive cars of approximately 1000 day, there are public car to Prada, Construction is really old, arriving in Prada when 剛 well encountered high hydrophobicity 賜 Fu, we also go to the Queue area, the whole Stadium come there is one great scene bit
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  • Is the great temple, and takes 20-30 minutes walk from the station. 2 month Lantern Festival have unzipped once in 8 and 7 years. It is recommended
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  • We attended an early morning service to view how they worship. We had first paid a fee to go through the dark tunnel below the temple where you walk touching the wall to guide you and you try to find ...  more »
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  • This is my most favorite temple in Japan! It is quite beautiful and the grounds are so spacious, that you have a lot to explore! What impressed me the most was the underground passage. It is a passage devoid of light and you have to make your way through the dark in order to find and touch a key that is hidden on the wall. Legend says that whoever touches the key will have a blessed life. It's a really interesting, meditation like experience to go in there and have one of your senses cut off like that. It is truly liberating. I've been there twice during my stay in Nagano and I'd go there again in a heartbeat if I'd had the chance!
  • Absolutely fantastic place, I recommend this place to people who love history or loves temples. The street leading up to the temple has the ancient Japanese village feel and its pretty neat. Definitely take in the sights and sounds of this place.
  • You can't miss this place when you stay in Nagano. This is Nagano's Nr. 1 glory. I went for morning ceremony 6:04 it started and it was cool to see it. Would recommended also have a walk around the main building. During the day you can do some shopping on the main street to the temple.
  • It's a beautiful temple and an enjoyable walk. If you want some amazing krapes head down to the main street where all the shops are.
  • Nagano Prefecture is located basically in the center of Japan and is surrounded on all four sides by 3000-meter tall mountains, earning it the nickname of the “Roof of Japan”. In 1998, Nagano hosted the Winter Olympics and Paralympics. The world-class snow resorts of Hakuba, Shiga Kogen Heights and Nozawa Onsen continue to attract winter sports enthusiasts every year. In addition, Nagano has convenient rail and expressway access to Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto and other major cities, and is in close proximity to such premier sightseeing spots as Mt. Fuji, Hida-Takayama and the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route. The prefecture spreads out to the north and south over 13,562 square kilometers, making it Japan’s fourth largest in size. Approximately 20% of the area is designated as Natural Parks. The prefecture boasts a sunny, inland climate, with an annual average of approximately 2000 hours of sunshine, and an average temperature of a moderate 12 degrees Celsius, with relatively low humidity. Besides being a treasure trove of nature, history and culture. Nagano is bursting with natural hot springs, making it the king of Onsens. Jigokudani Wild Monkey Park is the only place in the world you can see wild monkeys bathing in an onsen. Seeing their human-like expression on their faces as they soak is sure to bring a smile to your face. Karuizawa has historically been Japan’s most popular summer resort town. In addition to a multitude of golf courses and tennis courts and a well-appointed ski area, Karuizawa also features an expansive outlet shopping mall for year-round leisure enjoyment. Matsumoto Castle has the oldest 5-storied wooden donjon in the country and is a designated national treasure. Its black and white stucco siding provides a striking contrast with the beautiful Japan Alps in the background. Tsumago-juku, thanks to the preservation efforts of its townspeople, looks much the way it did during the feudal Edo era. Stepping into this classic post town gives one the feeling of having slipped back in time. Many people enjoy walking the 8 kilometers to Magome along the old Kyoto-to-Edo (Tokyo) Nakasendo Road, parts of which have the original cobblestone. In addition, thanks to the crisp, clean water and air, Nagano is famous for its delicious soba noodles, apples and sake, as well as oyaki dumplings, gohei mochi snacks, bamboo leaf-wrapped sasa-zushi. These and other traditional foods are part of Nagano’s culinary heritage and one of the prefecture’s biggest attractions.

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Where to stay in Nagano

A popular resort city, Nagano offers a wide variety of places to stay, ranging from luxurious, elegant heritage inns to backpackers' hostels in former temples. Five-star establishments can be found outside the city, while hostels tend to cluster around the railway station. Business-style, mid-range, and budget hotels abound in the downtown area and slightly to the north, underneath Zenko-ji Temple. A number of affordable "ryokan" (guesthouses) and other temple lodgings can be found in the same area.
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