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The majestuous home of the Secret Buddha


Zenko-ji Temple

500¥ 7:00 - 16:30

Zenko-ji is a Buddhist temple located in Nagano, which is considered as one of the most famous and influential temples in the the country. It was founded in the mid 7th century, before Buddhism in Japan was split info several different sects. Whereas most influential cities developed from castles or harbors, the city of Nagano was entirely built around this Temple.

The temple is well known for secretly storing the Hibitsu, or secret Buddha, which is said to be first Buddha statue ever to be brought into Japan, after having traveled across Korea from India in the 6th century. The original statue is never displayed in public due to religious motives, however a replica of it is shown to worshipers once every 6 years for a few weeks.

Zenko-ji is actually a large compound which covers an area of almost 6 hectares and is formed by 39 historically significant buildings, including gates, statues, pavilions and a museum. Its main hall is designated as National Treasure and features a completely dark underground passage, in which visitors can try to find and touch the so-called "Key to Paradise". Ths temple is also considered as one of the few last pilgrim sites in Japan, a function which has vanished from most other Temples but still attracts countless of worshipers to this site.


Nagano Station
Nagano Shinkansen Railpass


Zenko-ji can be reached on a 10 minute bus ride from JR Nagano Station and its grounds can be explored on floot.