Running from November 24th to December 25th, the Zenko-ji Omotesando Illumination burst into light over the weekend, warming the city’s heart with the golden glow of winter lights.
Nagano is at heart (and in every sense) a temple town, having grown-out from Zenko-ji Temple and along the pilgrim’s road leading to the temple – a road called the ‘Omotesando’. Founded in 642, the temple precinct has a near 1400 year history and as one of the oldest and most important Buddhist temples in Japan, continues to attract pilgrims and devotees to this day.
The Omotesando retains much of its historic character and continues to be one of the city’s major thoroughfares. From November 24th until December 15th, the first stage of the illumination will light-up this famous road leading to the temple before the brilliant final illumination of the temple itself from December 15th until the 25th.
In the cooling nights of late-autumn, walking the historic road bathed in light is a great way to explore the heart of Nagano. The temple itself will not be illuminated until mid-December (15th to 25th – as pictured below) and those wishing to access the inner sanctuaries need to be there before 16:00, when the doors close. But any visit to Nagano is incomplete without entering the famous temple precinct and seeking-out its hidden secrets; something which you can do before the sunsets and the Omotesando bursts into light.
Visiting the temple and walking the illuminated Omotesando promises to be a highlight for those coming to Nagano through late-November and December. The cold nights of early winter will give the illumination true radiance while also demanding a warm drink, meal or snack. Located along the Omotesando Road, just before you reach the temple precinct, Monzen Terrace Enya is one of Nagano’s newest and most exciting restaurants. With English-speaking staff and menu, Enya blends traditional Japanese dining and service with modern twists and style.
Wandering the illuminated Omotesando is a great way to explore Nagano by night and there’s no better place to base yourself than Hotel Kokusai 21 – Nagano City’s most established international hotel. Located approximate midway between JR Nagano Station and Zenko-ji Temple (and a brief walk from the Omotesando), Kokusai 21’s reputation for comfort, service and in-house restaurants is based on years of attending to the needs of international visitors.
With English-speaking staff and free shuttle service from and to JR Nagano Station, Hotel Kokusai 21 offers international visitors the Western comforts and facilities of home, with the best of Japan’s renowned attention to service and guest satisfaction.