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Zenko-ji Temple

Zenko-ji Temple: Our most recommended tours and activities

Nagano: Snow Monkeys, Zenkoji Temple & Sake Day Trip

1. Nagano: Snow Monkeys, Zenkoji Temple & Sake Day Trip

A great tour for all seasons, this is a 1-day guided tour of the most famous attractions of Nagano City and Jigokudani or “Hell’s Valley”, home of the Snow Monkeys. Take a scenic route to see the cutest monkeys in the world, then experience the tranquility of Zenkoji Temple and lively Nakamise shopping street. For guests traveling from Hakuba, from December through March, your journey can begin with a shuttle from Hakuba Happo Bus Terminal at 7:55 AM; otherwise, meet your guide at Nagano Station at 9:35 AM (please be at your chosen pickup point in advance of the meetup time as the tour needs to depart on-time). Famous for being the temple to hold the first Buddhist statue in Japan. Zenkoji Temple has a special energy and welcomes people of all faiths and religions. The temple grounds are beautiful and tranquil; there are hidden gems to explore, such as the dark tunnel running under the temple, said to be where you can gain enlightenment by finding the “Key To Paradise”. After lunch, return to Nagano Station again by public transport and take local bus from there to the Snow Monkeys. World-famous for their rare habit of soaking in the hot spring and living in the snow, these amazing macaques will let you get really close to them for some great photo opportunities and an unforgettable experience. After saying goodbye to the snow monkeys, stroll back along the tranquil forest trail to a delicious lunch at the restaurant near the trail exit. After seeing the Snow Monkeys, head to the local Japanese sake brewery to try various types of sake maybe even find a nice souvenir for yourself.

Private Snow Monkey Tour: From Nagano City / Ski Resorts

2. Private Snow Monkey Tour: From Nagano City / Ski Resorts

This tour offers amazing value for those keen skiers wanting to hop between ski resorts for their Nagano ski vacations, while seeing some of the best of what Nagano has to offer along the way! Once your tour begins, you will board our private tour vehicle and begin your journey to the Snow Monkey Park. Your guide will take you along the forest trail which leads to the park and into Jigokudani – rather dramatically translating to ‘Hell’s Valley’. Home to the only troop of monkeys in the entire world known to bathe in hot springs, there are no barriers separating you from the wild monkeys, making this a unique and memorable experience. Your guide will introduce these truly curious creatures and provide you time to enjoy the unique experience of observing them in close proximity. Make sure to bring your camera as you`re going to need it! Your guide will then accompany back along the trail and you will enjoy a traditional Japanese ‘Bento’ Box Lunch with variety that is sure to please any tastes. This specially prepared bento is locally sourced and offers a visually pleasing and decadent experience that will leave you wanting more! This lunch is designed to match the season and highlight the best of Nagano’s renowned food culture. Well-fed and content, it’s time to head-out of Yudanaka to explore the picturesque town of Obuse, and its remaining Edo-style buildings. Known for its historic character, chestnut delicacies and sake breweries, walking the streets of Obuse provides an incredible opportunity to sample some local specialties and appreciate the local culture of Nagano and Japan as a whole in this stroll through time. After spending some time in Obuse, you will once more board the private vehicle bound for Zenko-ji Temple. As a registered National Treasure, the temple is the most important cultural site in Nagano and one of the oldest and most important Buddhist temples in the entire country! A place of true historic importance, full of legends and myths, you will be guided around the temple before your guide will give you the opportunity to explore the surrounding precinct of smaller temples, shops, and food by yourself. As Japan’s second largest producer of sake, Nagano is synonymous with sake and no visit to the region is complete without delving into Japan’s most famous beverage. Your guide with lead your party to a local producer of sake, and introduce how to differentiate one brew from another as you taste a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. The information provided by your guide will allow you to continue to enjoy sake in a meaningful way even after the tour concludes. After sake tasting concludes, the guide will say their goodbyes as you board the bus to your selected drop-off location. The ride back is the perfect time to sit back, relax, and look through all those monkey photos before you finally arrive safe and sound at your destination!

Zenkoji Experience Tour: Overnight 'Shukubo' (Temple Lodge)

3. Zenkoji Experience Tour: Overnight 'Shukubo' (Temple Lodge)

Designed to provide guests with an intimate yet entertaining understanding of Nagano’s near-1,400 year-old Zenko-ji temple, this half-day group tour combines an in-depth guided experience at the temple including a private ‘goma’ prayer fire ceremony and an exploration of the region’s food culture and renowned ‘sake’ with an overnight stay at a traditional ‘shukubo’ (temple lodging).

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What people are saying about Zenko-ji Temple

Overall rating

4.8 / 5

based on 69 reviews

I'd do this tour again in a heartbeat. The tour of the temple was great, as was learning about the history of the area. The sake tasting was interesting and lunch was quite nice.

A very memorable trip.. December is good timing to visit!! would recommend everybody to join..

The guide was fantastic. Good humoured and knowledgeable!