What you cannot miss — Early Morning Service at Zenkoji Temple

September 25th, 2009 by
Category: Accomodations, Culture Art, Experience, Sightseeing


= My friends from various countries

Zenko-ji Temple is the pride of Nagano — even the pride of Japan.

It attracts more than 6,000,000 people annually.

However, many people miss the greatest part of their visit.


To fully enjoy its serene solemn atmosphere, stay at one of its 39 shukubo ( inns to serve for pilgrims run by temples affiliated to Zenko-ji), and join the morning service performed by both Zenkoji ‘top priest’ and

‘top priestess’ along with those shukubo monks! 



We started our tour here at the ‘Deva King Gate’ in the crisp air. You will see only some people in early morning.  





Daihongan–the temple of the top priestess 





                The main approach is also calm.



Purified ourselves with the smoke from the incense burner.

 Before joining the morning ritual, we received the blessing from the top priest,

which is so special (unique and impressive) you cannot experience anywhere else.

We also got the blessing from the top priestess on the way back from the morning prayer — how lucky!




 This is a photo from a couple of months ago — during the grand festival ‘Go-Kaicho’, people waited for a long time to touch the pillar called Eko-bashira, which features in the festival. And— 

Now you can touch it anytime to your heart’s content.




Bell tower

The temple precinct is open and welcomes you anytime!


5 Responses to “What you cannot miss — Early Morning Service at Zenkoji Temple

  1. Hi, I’m planning to make a day trip up to Nagano from Tokyo in early-mid December.
    Can you share your experiences about whether there is any beautiful winter scenary to see after I have spent the morning visiting Zenkoji? I’m planning to finish touring Zenkoji by about 12.30pm so I have half a day left before taking the evening shinkansen back to Tokyo.

    Can you advise about any beautiful nature spots to visit?

    Thank you.

  2. Dear Brandon,

    Thank you for asking!
    I am very glad you can visit our town soon.

    I am sorry I could not get back to you sooner.

    A Half day tour will not be long enough for you to really enjoy the winter wonderland of Nagano, but I would like to recommend you visit one of these heights: Shiga Kogen, Togakushi or Hakuba.
    All of them are within one-hour bus ride from JR Nagano station. The bus that goes to Togakushi stops by Zenko-ji, I think.
    The bus service to those places are not very convenient, though.

    Also see English guides below —

  3. Hi,

    Hearing about your fantastic stay in the Shukubo in Zenkoji, we are also curious in trying out the temple lodging during our upcoming trip to Nagano. However, we couldn’t find any website that allows us to make reservation at the Shukubo. Please share with us how you manage to place a booking for one of the 39 shukubo in Zenkoji temple.


    Best Regards,

  4. Hi Haru,

    Arigatou Gozaimasu!!!

    I will definitely be contacting them for the shukubo stay.

    Best Regards,

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