The flower festival of the city of Nagano is held every year in early May. For the occasion, Chuo-Dori, the main street leading to Zenko-ji Temple, is covered with flower mosaics. Cultural performances, such as the lion dance, are also held during the festival. It is also a great chance to enjoy a good Matcha ice cream!
To reach Zenko-ji temple from Nagano station, one can walk on Chuo Dori (literally meaning central street) all the way north until in front of the temple. On that same street just north of the first gate of Zenko-ji temple are located many small stores. It is a great place to buy Omiyage (gifts) to family or friends.
Zenko-ji temple is located in the heart of Nagano city, the host of the 1998 Olympic games. The main street leading to the temple is lined with shops offering souvenirs and local produce. It is an ideal place to shop for friends and family.
The Zenko-ji temple was built in the 7th century and is still to this day an important site of pilgrimage in Japan. The legend says that the temple hosts the first Buddha statue ever brought to Japan. It is forbidden to see this statue, even for the head priest. Every six years, a replica of the statue is shown during a massive pilgrimage. The last display occurred in 2015.
A peculiar attraction of Zenko-ji consists of walking through a tunnel under the temple in complete darkness. The goal is to touch a special ‘key’, which is some kind of metallic object, on the wall. Touching this “key” is supposed to give you enlightenment. At the end of the tunnel lies a mirror so you can look at the “new self” after being reborn.
A museum is also located in the pagoda near the Zenko-ji temple. The exhibit presents various artifacts about Zenko-ji temple and a video display recounts the visit of the Dalai Lama in 2010.