Zenkoji Temple in Nagano Prefecture is considered one of the most popular temples in Japan and is the largest in the country after the Todai-ji of Nara. It is surrounded by a lively religious district and is accessed via the vibrant Nakamise-dori avenue, which is lined with temple accommodation, shops and monastery residences.
The present temple complex was founded in 642 when Yoshimitsu Honda laid down a statue of Buddha (the "" Ikko Sanzon Amida Nyorai "") when the religion was first introduced in Japan. A replica of the statue is only on public display every 6 years, while the original remains hidden.
While the surrounding city began to develop during the Kamakura era, the temple also suffered damage at various points in its history, with the current structure being the 11th reconstruction, dating back to 1707.
Zenkoji is widely regarded as a unique temple for a variety of reasons. He also belongs to the Jodo and Tendai sects and was always open to women.
Fifteen minute bus ride (#1) from JR Nagano Station, followed by a 5 minute walk.