Nagano City (長野) is a Monzen-machi, a town that developed around a temple. With the venerable Zenkoji Temple at its heart, and its passion inspired by the majestic peaks surrounding it, the city has been attracting pilgrims for over 1,400 years.
Zenkoji Temple (善光寺) is one of the most important temple in Japan and is said to be a required visit at least once in everyone’s life. It was founded in the 7th century and stores the first Buddhist statue ever to be brought into Japan.
The original statue is hidden while a copy of it is shown to the public every six years for a few weeks. The next opportunity will be in April/May 2027.
There are also 39 shukubo (temple lodgings) in Zenkoji, where you can stay the night and learn about the monastic lifestyle and taste the shojin Buddhist vegetarian.
Jigokudani Yaen Koen (地獄谷野猿公苑), also known as the Snow Monkey Park, is home to a very special troop of Japanese macaques and a unique place which offers visitors the unique experience of seeing world-famous wild monkeys going about their daily lives including the unique behavior of bathing in onsens (natural hot springs).
Japanese macaques have the northernmost range of the world’s non-human primates.