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Zenkoji temple

Zenkoji templeZenkoji is a Buddhist temple of both Tendai school and Pure Land Buddhism.
It is at the north of the urban area in Nagano city, and is located about 2 km north of JR Nagano station.
It has been one of the famous temples in Japan since early times.
This temple attracts around 6 million tourists a year.

It was founded in 644.
The objects of devotion are statues of Buddha. They were presented in 552 by the King of Baekje (the ancient Korea), when Buddhism was introduced to Japan.
The statues have been enshrined in a miniature shrine. They are completely secret, so even the chief priest of this temple is not allowed to see them.

The great main temple was rebuilt in 1707, after repeated destructions by fire since the foundation.
It is about 27 meters high, about 24 meters wide, and about 53 meters long. It has been designated as a national treasure in 1953.

There are many other buildings in the large precincts.
Some of them have been designated as a nationally important cultural properties.

The temple bell near the main temple was created in 1667, and is designated an art treasure.
It is rung on the hour every day.
In 1998, Nagano Winter Olympic Game was opened at the signal of this bell.

Every six years, the Exposition Ceremony has been held.
The substitute statues which are the same shapes as the secret ones are placed in the main temple. That is the "exposition" of the objects of devotion.
Then a wooden pole is set up in front of the main temple, and the pole and the statues are tied with five-colored strings.
If you touch the pole linked with the objects of devotion, it is said that you will be happy.
The last ceremony was held from April to May in 2009.

How to get to here

By railroad and route bus

  • From Tokyo, by Nagano Shinkansen, about 1 hour and 30-50 minutes to Nagano.
    By route bus, from Nagano station, about 15 minutes.
  • From Nagoya, by limited express "Shinano" on JR Chuo Line, about 3 hours to Nagano.
    By route bus, from Nagano station, about 15 minutes.

By car

Run Kan-etsu and Joshin-etsu Expressways and exit at Nagano exit. About 210 km from Tokyo. About 2 hours 30 minutes.
From the exit, about 10 km.

Stone-paved approach to Zenkoji
Photo by Railstation.net
Niomon gate
Photo by Railstation.net
Approach between Niomon and Sanmon
Photo by Railstation.net
Sanmon gate of Zenkoji
Photo by Railstation.net
Main temple of Zenkoji
Photo by Railstation.net
A side of main temple
Photo by Railstation.net
Temple bell of Zenkoji
Photo by Free Sozai SAKURA
Scripture house in Zenkoji
Photo by Railstation.net
A festival in May Exposition Ceremony in 2009

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