It's nearly impossible to miss Zenkoji.
Straight out of the Nagano Station, start walking up towards the hill, and you'll find yourself standing before the main gate.
Pass through the towering gate, and you are now in the shopping area, where vendors sell souvenirs, snacks and meals in buildings that give off an edo-era like feeling.
Through the main entrance of the Zenkoji gate is the courtyard with large incense pot.
For ¥100, you may grab a bundle of incense and light it by using the pot's fire, then toss the stack inside the pot. This will generate large amount of smoke, and you fan the smokes to your body, especially to the areas where you may have incurred injury, to hope for good health and fast recovery.
The main shrine houses, of course, praying area with statues of Buddha, but also has a little bit of surprise. With a small fee, roughly ¥500, you can enter the basement pathway.
This pathway contains absolutely no lights. It is pitch dark and no lights are provided, nor are they advised to be used, and the only way to know where you are is by touching the wooden walls of the rather tight pathway.
The whole point of walking through the basement pathway is to touch the small door handle towards the end and make a wish.
Because of this door, and the fact that there's no real way to tell how far the person ahead of you is, there are a lot of bumping into strangers and touching hands.
Once you have finished your tour around Zenkouji, head down the hills to find amazing restaurants and izakayas (Japanese style bars).
Nagano is famous for their delicious soba noodles, but their ramens tend to be just as delicious.
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