Nagano Tomyo Lantern Festival
Held every year since 2004, the Zenko-ji Tomyo Lantern Festival takes place at Nagano City’s near-1400 year old Zenko-ji Temple to commemorate the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics. 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.
Light is offered in several different ways. Most notably, the temple complex is lit up in all kinds of different colors while beautiful ‘kiri-e’ (paper-cut) lanterns line the street leading to the temple. Designed by professional artists, hobbyists and local children, the array of themes and patterns is diverse and outscores the strong community sense of the festival.
Unlike the boisterous festivals of Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, this is a small and tranquil festival with a very local feel. As one of Japan’s most important temples for pilgrimage, the streets surrounding the temple are home to many ‘shukubo’ (traditional temple lodgings). During the festival, many shukubo also light their facades or place light installations inside their courtyards – a truly beautiful sight in the cold winter night and an Instagrammers delight!
For guests wanting to experience the festival in combination with a guided visit to the Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park, our 1-Day Snow Monkeys & Zenko-ji Tomyo Lantern Festival Tour operates everyday from Feb. 11th to 14th 2021, and includes a warming dinner at nearby Monzen Terrace Enya. See our tour page for details.
*Please note, the light installations featured at the festival change from year-to-year and installations shown on this page may not be included in future festivals.