Zenko-ji Temple

Nagano, Chubu

Zenko-ji Temple one of the main tourist spots in Nagano. Many gather to watch the ordination rites of the temple priests.

Zenko-ji is one of the most magnificent temples in Japan. It consists of 39 “Shukubo” accommodation buildings, Dai-kanjin and Dai-hongan. With grounds measuring 59,000 sq m Zenko-ji was believed to have been founded in the mid-7th century, so its history spans 1,400 years. The image of the Buddha enshrined here is known as the Ikko-Sanzon-Amida-Nyorai, and consists of a statue of Amida-Nyorai presiding over the Land of Happiness (believed to be the Buddhist paradise of the afterlife), standing against the aureole on its back and flanked by Kannon-Bosatsu, the Bodhisattva believed to soothe suffering, and Seishi-Bosatsu, the Bodhisattva presiding over intelligence. It is believed that a Korean king presented these statues when Buddhism was introduced into Japan via Korea. Even today, these statues are never on public display and are kept in absolute secrecy (for religious reasons, images are not usually put on display), and only once every seven years replicas of these statues are made available for public viewing. Zenko-ji is open to everyone regardless of their Buddhist denomination, and it is believed that visiting at least once in a life time will ensure passage into the Land of Happiness. The temple has grown on the basis of this popular belief from ancient times, and continues to bustle with visitors even today.

Further behind the San-mon Gate lies the main temple, which is designated as a national treasure. It was rebuilt in 1707 and is the forth largest wooden structure in Japan.

Inside the altar stands the statue of Amida-Nyorai. It is not shown to the public, but every seven years (six full years) the Maedachi Honzon, a replica of the statue, is offered to the public for viewing. Right underneath the altar is a dark tunnel where you can experience going through the ordination platform designed to be used during the ordination rites of the priests. Along the way, try to find and touch the key said to be that of paradise. Many deities are enshrined in the temple, including Nure-Botoke, which is said to protect children. (c)善光寺

Information

Address
491 Motoyoshi-cho, Nagano-shi, Nagano
Admission Fee
500 yen (regular fee)
Notes
From Tokyo:[Rail]1h 40 min to Nagano Station by JR Nagano Shinkansen Line.[Bus]JR Nagano Station/Bus/10 min./Zenkoji-Daimon Bus Stop/On foot/5 min.
From Osaka:[Rail]2h 30 min from Shin-Osaka to Tokyo Station by JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line.
Directions
From Tokyo:
[Rail] 1h 40 min to Nagano Station by JR Nagano Shinkansen Line.
[Bus] JR Nagano Station/Bus/10 min./Zenkoji-Daimon Bus Stop/On foot/5 min.
From Osaka:
[Rail] 2h 30 min from Shin-Osaka to Tokyo Station by JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line.

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