Join a Tour & Discover the Fascinating Story of the Temple

Join a Tour & Discover the Fascinating Story of the Temple


At its heart, Nagano is a temple town. Established in 642, the story of Zenko-ji is entwined with that of Nagano. The two are inseparable and synonymous with each other meaning that no visit is complete without visiting the majestic temple. Zenko-ji is one of Japan’s most open and welcoming temples, meaning that visitors can enter and move around the historic precinct with ease.


Yet to fully appreciate this history and importance of the temple, visiting the temple on a guided tour is a great option for visitors who seek a more immersive, informative experience. As Nagano’s No.1 tour operator, all of our guides are locally-based and relish the chance to accompany guests to Zenko-ji and tell the story of this ancient temple starting with:

Zenko-ji temple in Nagano city

Our 1-Day Snow Monkeys, Zenko-ji Temple & Sake Tour operates throughout the year and combines a morning visit to the temple with lunch and guided sake tasting experience, followed by a visit to the Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park. Our guides focus on introducing guests to the temple in a fun, informative and engaging manner – explaining why Zenko-ji is so important while also highlighting aspects and meanings repeated at other temples. In doing so, we hope our guests enhance their understanding of not just Zenko-ji and Nagano, but Japanese culture and the important role of Buddhism within it.

Operating all-year-round, our Zenko-ji Experience Tour inc. Overnight ‘Shukubo’ (Temple Lodging) Stay goes into even more detailed with an in-depth guided experience at the temple including ‘goma prayer’ (fire ceremony) followed by an overnight stay at one of the temples many traditional ‘shukubo’ (temple lodgings) – a great way further to not just further your understanding of Zenko-ji but also of Japanese Buddhism and just what makes this temple so important.


In winter, the temple plays hot to two peaceful and festivals at night, both of which we provided tours to – in combination with visits to the Jigokudani Monkey Park – starting with our 1-Day Snow Monkeys & Winter Illumination Tour. Taking place in December, this engaging tour combines an early afternoon visit to the monkeys with evening exploration of the Zenko-ji Illumination Festival, this enjoyable 1-day tour captures the magic of Nagano of in winter. Including a multi-course dinner at one of Nagano City’s most popular restaurants – Monzen Terrace Enya – this is one tour rich in the festive spirit of winter!


You’ll have plenty of time to enjoy your meal and get warm before heading to the nearby temple, where you guide will introduce you to the near-1400 year history of Zenko-ji before allowing you time to explore for yourself and take in the beauty and atmosphere of the winter illumination. This is a rare opportunity to explore the temple at night. Accompanied by a locally-based guide, we are certain to find this to be an illuminating experience in every sense of the word!


In February, our 1-Day Snow Monkeys & Zenko-ji Tomyo Lantern Festival Tour combines a visit to Nagano’s world-famous Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park and evening exploration of the Zenko-ji Tomyo Lantern Festival, this enjoyable tour marks the midpoint of winter and illuminates Nagano’s ancient heart! Including an early dinner at Monzen Terrace Enya, this tour brings warmth and light into the midst of winter.


For one week each February, the temple and nearby precinct emerge from the dark evening in vivid colors. The world ‘tomyo’ means to offer light to the Buddha and by illuminating the temple in splendid colors, the people of Nagano do just that. The festival also celebrates Nagano’s role as host of the Winter Olympics in February 1998. Countless ‘kiri-e’ paper lanterns – created by artists, local residents and school children – line the historic street leading to the temple, in offering light to the Buddha. ‘Shukubo’ (traditional temple lodgings) in the streets around the temple also come to light, as their courtyards exhibit light installations – an Instagramers delight!


In the beauty of the light, your guide will accompany you around the temple, explaining its legends and importance while allowing plenty of time to explore for yourself.



Based in Nagano and operating all year round, we are Nagano’s No.1 tour and charter operator. We have the local knowledge of where to go, when to go and what to do when you’re there to make sure you get the most out of your adventure in Central Japan! As a registered travel agent we can arrange experiences and tours, transport, accommodation and inclusive packages including privately guided or transport-only charters to Zenko-ji Temple or any other regional destination.


For guests wanting to access these destinations in the comfort of their own transport, we can arrange a private tour or charter customised to fit your needs, starting and ending at any destination in the region. Our drivers and vehicles are fully certified, allowing us to transport you to and from your preferred destinations in combination with any activity that suits your schedule. All vehicles are fitted with a protective screen – separating the driver from passenger and luggage area – and our drivers wear protective masks, allowing you to move between your destinations in comfort.


We can arrange both private tours with an English-speaking guide or a private charter, including a private vehicle and driver but without a guide. We’d love to be part of your adventure in Central Japan and help you discover even more!

Why choose us?

Awarded a 2022 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Award for our 1-Day Snow Monkeys, Zenko-ji Temple & Sake Tour – recognised as one of the Top 10 Experiences in Japan – we have the local knowledge and experience to help you get the most out of your time in Nagano and Central Japan.

Got a question about visiting Zenko-ji? Click on the INQUIRY button below and let’s get planning together!