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“Historic temple in Nagano”
Review of Zenko-ji Temple

Zenko-ji Temple
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$147.78*
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Full-Day Tour of Snow Monkeys, Zenko-ji Temple...
Ranked #2 of 186 things to do in Nagano
Certificate of Excellence
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Reviewed June 19, 2013

A large, beautiful temple at the end of the main street in Nagano, with many shops and restaurants along the way. The temple is about 1400 years old, and pre-dates Nagano, which was built around the temple. A fun activity is to go down into the completely dark crypt and search for the "key to heaven." The temple grounds are beautiful.

Thank gwashley
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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"nagano station"
in 33 reviews
"underground passage"
in 25 reviews
"main hall"
in 22 reviews
"dark tunnel"
in 15 reviews
"souvenir shops"
in 11 reviews
"complete darkness"
in 9 reviews
"incense burner"
in 6 reviews
"morning service"
in 4 reviews
"visiting japan"
in 4 reviews
"road leading"
in 5 reviews
"worth a visit"
in 16 reviews
"couple of hours"
in 6 reviews
"nice walk"
in 6 reviews
"nagano area"
in 4 reviews
"early morning"
in 6 reviews
"national treasure"
in 9 reviews
"grounds are beautiful"
in 5 reviews
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305 - 309 of 1,565 reviews

Reviewed June 10, 2013

The Zenkoji Temple in Nagano is considered to be one of the most important and polular temples in Japan.
Even if you suffer from "temple fatigue" or have seen better temples in other countries, this temple is worth a visit.

From Nagano JR station you need to take one of the frequent buses although the more energetic could probably walk in about 20-30 mins.

There is no entrance fee to visit the temple and the extensive gardens but there is a nominal fee to enter the inner sanctum.

The best time to visit the temple is around sunrise when the monks gather to chant. Most visitors arrive too late in the day when temple activities have ceased and are probably disappointed.
If you line up with the local devotees at sunrise you will receive personal blessings from the High Priest and the High Priestress.
You can then listen to the unusual and haunting chants or traverse the dark underground passage which winds its way under the inner sanctum. This is a rather surreal experience and symbolises death and the passage to the next life or the "key to paradise".

The gardens are beautiful especially when the azaleas are in bloom.

The nearby streets have what they call "Temple Accommodation", typically Japanese home-stays.

2  Thank gyanfernando
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 26, 2013

Zenkoji is definitely worth the visit. Use a JR Pass to visit Nagano for at least nights. It is just under 2 hrs by Shinkansen from Tokyo.

Thank Patrick C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 19, 2013

A bit commercial now, the temple charges 500yen for a foray down into the pitch dark tunnel where pilgrims feel their way around for the key of enlightenment. Not sure if you need a pitch black tunnel to tell you that life is full of fumbles but it was fun for a 10min jaunt into the dark. Other than that, I liked Zenkoji for being well signposted in English and for its organised giftshop where you can purchase omamori and ema tablets. The walk from the Daimon stop up to the temple is also interesting with shops, cafes and sub-temples along the way. Look out for the statue and story of the raccoon dog!

1  Thank chongbrood
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed May 18, 2013

Nagano’s Zenkoji Temple is one the most important and popular temples in Japan.
It is an easy and enjoyable 15-minute walk from Nagano’s train station. As you approach the temple itself you walk along a street which is bordered by many small and interesting shops, selling everything from food to clothing and of course your basic tourist type trinkets. Even if you are not interested in buying anything its fun to just look into the various shops and watch folks shopping.
The Temple grounds are extremely well maintained with manicured gardens with shrubs, Koi ponds and walkways.
It is a very enjoyable and relaxing way to spend a half or whole day and well worth the visit.

Thank TravellerNanaimoB_C_
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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