Close to colourful shinto shrine Fukashi-jinja in central Matsumoto, Zenkyu-In is a charming Buddhist temple, definitely worth stopping in at to enjoy its range of interesting features.
On the approach to the gate, you're greeted by a row of six serene Buddhist statues, with another looking over them from behind them in the adjacent graveyard. The gate itself is an impressive construction, more like a gatehouse, manned by two fierce-looking guardian demon statues on each side.
The shady grounds are intimate and peaceful, and are home to a couple more statues, a simple, unfussy prayer hall, and a small but very pretty garden. Then, one of the temple's unique charms is the cabinets near the gate, where you'll find shelves lined with rows of Buddhist saints, devotees and deities. Most of them are simple carved figurines, while a few are golden statuettes, all with different poses and expressions. It can be fun to imagine what they're thinking, saying or doing.
The temple is about ten minutes' walk from Matsumoto Station, more or less directly east.
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I came to Japan from Manchester, England in summer 2003, and have travelled a lot since then, around Japan and in Asia. When I`m not working I write satire at www.iothern.blogspot.com and perform stand-up comedy in and around Tokyo. Check my youtube channel `CunningPunster` for a taste.