Zenkoji Temple

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Zenkoji Temple in Nagano prefecture is considered one of Japan's most popular temples and the largest after Nara's Todai-ji. It is surrounded by a bustling religious district and is reached by following the lively Nakamise-dori avenue that is lined with temple lodgings, shops and abbey residences.

Overview

Address

491 Naganomotoyoshichō, Nagano, 380-0851 (Map) (Directions)

Hours

9:00 - 16:00 Closed

Opening Hours

Monday 9:00 - 16:00
Tuesday 9:00 - 16:00
Wednesday 9:00 - 16:00
Thursday 9:00 - 16:00
Friday 9:00 - 16:00
Saturday 9:00 - 16:00
Sunday 9:00 - 16:00
Holidays 9:00 - 16:00

Price

¥500

Phone Number

026-234-3591

Website

zenkoji.jp

Highlights

Niomon Gate

A journey to Zenkoji will start to the south, with visitors passing several temple lodgings (shukubo) to reveal the outer Niomon Gate, flanked by a pair of Niō Guardians. Following a path that includes several guardian Jizo Bodhisattva, visitors will then reach the main Sanmon Gate, which dates back to 1750, and the central temple area.

Hondo

The two-storey main hall (Hondo) is a designated National Treasure, constructed from almost 60,000 lengths of wood with a roof made of cypress bark. It is vastly decorated with many Buddhist statues housed there, including a wooden statue of Binzuru.

Inner Chamber

Visitors can pay a small fee of 500 yen and remove their shoes to enter the inner chamber, where beside the main altar they can descend a narrow staircase into an underground passage. Here visitors are on a quest to find the 'key to paradise'. While walking through the passageway in complete darkness, a metal key is secretly hidden on the right-hand wall and it is said those who are able to touch it will gain enlightenment.

Access

Fifteen minute bus ride (#1) from JR Nagano Station, followed by a 5 minute walk.

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