Zenkoji Temple, Nagano City (Nagano-shi)


Zenkoji temple designated national treasure is said to have been built approximately 1,400 years ago. This temple is very well known as the one which bestows paradise upon all the people. Because Zenkoji temple does not belong to any sect of Buddhism.

Upon entering the temple at the Nio gate, visitors are confronted by a pair of huge statues which represent the Nio, the guardian deities of the Buddha who subjugate all enemies of Buddhism. The images were carved in the first year of the 20th century by the famous sculptors of the day, Koun Takamura and Unkai Yonehara.


You can see the noble Daihongan temple, the magnificent Daikanjin temple, the huge Sanmon gate with its calligraphy which is the size of three tatami mats and the Hondo, the main hall, designated national treasure in the temple precincts. Zenkoji temple is a representative famous temple in Japan.

The approach to Zenkoji temple consists of 7,777 pieces of stone pavement

The geometrical pattern of the stone pavement at Zenkoji temple looks really beautiful. A ritual which can be observed on the pavement is called “Ojyuzu Chodai” in the early morning. The high priest or priestess faces visiting pilgrims to pray for their salvation and that of the world.

The main hall of Zenkoji temple with a Zushi – A National Treasure:

The roof was originally thatched with the horse chestnuts (thick horse chestnut board). It was changed into the bark-thatched roof in 1926.The roof was renewed again after the Showa big repairing in November, 1989, and some beams of the loft were also reinforced. A national treasure designation book says the main hall of the Zenkoji temple as a national treasure includes one Zushi and a hip roof with Hongawara style boards. More details: The main hall of Zenkoji temple with a Zushi

Forming a relationship with Amitabha in the darkness is called Okaidan Meguri.

The act of walking around the pitch-black tunnel below Zenkoji’s main hall. The entrance of the tunnel, Kaidan, is on the right side of Sankyo image ion the main building.
The darkness appears after coming down the stairs and several steps. You need to grope in the darkness.

There’s an important key on the way to the exit. While sliding your right hand at waist height on the wall, you must find and touch the key.

It is said that you’ll attain a connection with Amitabha and will be able to go to the buddhist paradise if you could touch.

This process only takes about five minutes in actuality, however it feels much longer in the darkness.

Sanmon gate and stone pavement

The dignified and graceful Sanmon gate is an Irimoya style structure. It is beautifully in harmony with the geometrical pattern of the stone pavement.

Nure Buddha

“Daibutsu Jizo”,Nure Buddha ,which is located next to “Roku Jizo”,Six Jizo,was said to be built by Kichisaburo praying for the repose of Oshichi’s soul. The Jizo has the gentle face of motherhood. This is a guardian deity which is believed to save children.

Address and Contact:
Zenkoji Temple 491 Motoyoshi-cho, Nagano, Nagano Prefecture 380-0851, Japan Hour: 9:30 AM ~ 4:30 PM (JST: UTC+9) everyday, 9:30 AM ~ 2:00 PM only in 31st December every year. Tel: +81 26 234 3591 Fax: +81 26 235 2151