HOME > Historical Nagano (Day Tour of Zenko-ji with Shojin Ryori)

Historical Nagano (Day Tour of Zenko-ji with Shojin Ryori)

Tour outline

11,300 JPY - 18,000 JPY

*Charge per one Adult

Tour code : 0027Z
From US$103

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Zenko-ji Temple
Built approximately 1,400 years ago in Nagano, Zenko-ji Temple is quite unique compared to other temples in the fact that it has never belonged to any particular sect of Buddhism. The main hall, now designated as a national treasure, is a large-scale wooden structure which features traditional elements of Japanese architecture such as shumoku-style ※1 and hiwadabuki thatched roofs ※2. One of the main attractions is the tunnel known as “Okaidan Meguri”’ which runs under the temple’s main hall. It is said that if, whilst making your way through the pitch black corridor, you can find and lay your hands on the padlock known as “the key to the Land of Happiness” you are promised a long life in this world and will enter the Land of Happiness in the afterlife.
How about trying your luck at finding the padlock and taking away your share of its lucky charm?

※1 Shumoku-style roofs are T shaped, much like the shape of a wooden bell hammer (shumoku). This style is used in temples.
※2 Hiwadabuki thatched roofs are roofs composed of cypress bark layers.

Matsushiro Castle
Matsushiro Castle is often used as a filming location for period dramas and movies, one of the most famous being the movie “Semishigure”, based on the novel written by Shuhei Fujisawa. Located in the North West of the prefecture, the castle is said to have been built by Takeda Shingen around 1560 due to its strategic military location at the time. The turn of the period in 1622 saw Nobuyuki Sanada rise to power as a feudal lord and the castle become the centerpiece of the city. Today, although the honmaru (central part of a castle) no longer exists, the gates, moat, and stone walls have been restored to original condition which gives you a sense of the castle's former splendor. Matsushiro-jo Castle was chosen as one of Japan‘s Top 100 castles and is an ideal photo spot!

Sanada residence
The Sanada residence was built at the end of the Edo period (1603-1868) by 9th generation head of the famed war lord family, Yukinori Sanada. Take off your shoes, step onto the tatami mats, walk through the grounds and garden and really get a feel for what it was like to live as a samurai.
Authentrip will provide you with a detailed trail map of the old part of the city, with locations such as the Sanada Treasure Museum where the katana (swords) of real samurai are exhibited and the Bunbu Gakko, the former practice ground for the samurai. Take a leisurely walk through the samurai era.

Shojin ryori
For lunch, we give you the unique opportunity to enjoy shojin ryori in an authentic shukubo. Shukubos are temple lodgings, run by the monks themselves on the temple grounds. Shojin ryori is a type of vegetarian cuisine, based on the Buddhist precepts that animal produce or ingredients※ which stimulate worldly desires shall not be used. With the continuation of the Buddhist traditional of providing pilgrims with hospitality and a place at the table, you can enjoy the delicate flavors of authentic shojin ryori at the shukubo of Zenko-ji Temple.

※ In shojin ryori, spring onion, leek, garlic etc are said to increase worldly desires and thus not consumed by monks.

Old Battlefield of Kawanakajima
Fought between Takeda Shingen and Uesugi Kenshin in the sixteenth century, the clash which took place here was said to be the most ferocious of all five battles in this Sengoku period conflict. Takeda Shingen and Uesugi Kenshin are well known figures in the Shinshu region. Can you imagine what it was like for the military commanders who led their armies into this fight?

The images used are for illustration purposes only.
Photo credit:Nagano Tourism Association

[ Where to next?]
・From the JR Nagano Station, Tokyo is 1.5 hrs away by Shinkansen.
Toyama and Kanazawa can are both 1.5 hrs by Shinkansen.
Sendai is 2.5 hrs away (includes transfer at Omiya station)
Nagoya is 3 hrs away by Wide View Shinano. From there, Kyoto and Osaka can be reached in approx. 1 hr by Shinkansen.
Matsumoto and its castle are 1 hr away by Wide View Shinano.

・From Tokyo Haneda Airport, fly to Sapporo (New Chitose Airport) – Fukuoka (Fukuoka Airport) and Yonago (Yonago Airport).

Click here for our tour recommendations in Sendai.
Click here for our tour recommendations in Yonago.

Available period Throughout the year

Fees(Adult)
11,300 JPY - 18,000 JPY
Tour date
Every day expect Tuesday
Minimum number of participants
1 Persons
Departure point
JR Nagano Station East Entrance

* Price for one Adult
(prices as seen on our booking sites. If you book through other services, the price may vary)

*Included in the tour price

・All Transportation
・Healthy and delicious Shojin Ryori Lunch
・Admission fee to Zenko-ji Temple (including the inner chamber, underground passage, and history museum
・Admission fee to tourist locations in Matsushiro

※Please note: Admission ticket to Zenkoji temple (NAIJIN-KEN Ticket) is normally 500 yen. This fee is covered in the overall tour price.

※Admission to Sanmon gate is not included.

Reservation deadline
10 days before the tour starts
Cancelation charge
Company name
RIELA

* Depending on weather and road conditions changes to the tour without prior notice can be possible.

Assembly Point
JR Nagano Station East Entrance
access
[Train Station] JR Nagano Station East Entrance
・From Tokyo or Kanazawa - approx. 1.5 hrs by Shinkansen
・From Sendai - approx. 2.5 hrs by Shinkansen(transfer required at Omiya station)
・From Nagoya - approx. 3 hrs by Wide View Shinano
・From Kyoto or Osaka - Arriving in Nagano on the previous day via Nagoya or Kanazawa

・Taxi tour service is available from Haneda Airport or Narita Airport (for an extra fee). Contact us for more details.

Assembling time
10:30am
Ending place
JR Nagano Station
Time required
5 hrs

Schedule

Private Tour Plan
Shared Ride Plan


Private Tour Plan

Day 1
10:30 Meet at JR Nagano Station A taxi driver holding a white Authentrip flag will be waiting for you.
Zenko-ji Temple We recommend heading to the ordination platform early as it may get crowded. One unique feature of this temple is that it is not affiliated with a particular sect of Buddhism. Admire the architecture and atmosphere that has been here for over a millennium. You can see how lucky you are by entering a dark tunnel and searching for a padlock called “the key to the land of happiness”. Maybe you will be lucky!
Traditional Buddhist vegetarian lunch Enjoy Shojin Ryori for lunch in an authentic temple lodge. This style of cooking adheres to Buddhist principles so it uses vegetables, wild plants and tofu while avoiding animal products. You will feel nourished and spiritual when you eat this meal.
Old Battlefield of Kawanakajima While you take a break, you can learn about the fourth battle of Kawanakajima. There is a lot of history in the grounds of this park. You will be sitting on ground that witnessed a memorable battle from the Warring States era of Japanese history. It is amazing to think about the soldiers and commanders who stood on the same ground all those years ago.
Free time at Matsushiro Castle The streets near this Castle Gate have remained the same for many years. There is so much history to be found such as in the Sanada Treasures Museum. The house of renowned Edo period scholar, Sakuma Shozan, is well worth seeing. There is a shrine dedicated to this famous thinker from the end days of the Tokugawa shogunate in this area too.

There are even some tunnels remaining from the Matsushiro Imperial HQ project. This secret plan was drawn up during World War II with the aim of relocating the Imperial government away from Tokyo to tunnels here in Nagano in 1944. This area is full of history from the Edo era to the Showa years.
15:30 Tour ends at JR Nagano Station
※Please make sure to read our [terms & policies].
↑Schedule Top

Shared Ride Plan

Day 1
10:30 Meet at JR Nagano Station A taxi driver holding a white Authentrip flag will be waiting for you.
Zenko-ji Temple We recommend heading to the ordination platform early as it may get crowded. One unique feature of this temple is that it is not affiliated with a particular sect of Buddhism. Admire the architecture and atmosphere that has been here for over a millennium. You can see how lucky you are by entering a dark tunnel and searching for a padlock called “the key to the land of happiness”. Maybe you will be lucky!
Traditional Buddhist vegetarian lunch Enjoy Shojin Ryori for lunch in an authentic temple lodge. This style of cooking adheres to Buddhist principles so it uses vegetables, wild plants and tofu while avoiding animal products. You will feel nourished and spiritual when you eat this meal.
Old Battlefield of Kawanakajima While you take a break, you can learn about the fourth battle of Kawanakajima, which was fought between Takeda Shingen and Uesugi Kenshin in the sixteenth century. The clash which took place here was said to be the most ferocious of all five battles in this Sengoku period conflict. Takeda Shingen and Uesugi Kenshin are well known figures in the Shinshu region. Can you imagine what it was like for the military commanders who led their armies into this fight? There is a lot of history in the grounds of this park.
Free time at Matsushiro Castle The streets near this Castle Gate have remained the same for many years. There is so much history to be found such as in the Sanada Treasures Museum. The house of renowned Edo period scholar, Sakuma Shozan, is well worth seeing. There is a shrine dedicated to this famous thinker from the end days of the Tokugawa shogunate in this area too.

There are even some tunnels remaining from the Matsushiro Imperial HQ project. This secret plan was drawn up during World War II with the aim of relocating the Imperial government away from Tokyo to tunnels here in Nagano in 1944. This area is full of history from the Edo era to the Showa years.
15:30 Disband at JR Nagano Station
※Please make sure to read our [terms & policies].
↑Schedule Top
Cancellations and modifications
If you would like to modify details, such as your traveling dates or the number of participants, please cancel your current reservation and make a new one. Cancellations can be made online through “My Page”. Please be aware that a cancellation fee may apply depending on the time of year.

■Cancellation period
[1)Within 60 days of receipt of payment. 2)Up to 8 days before departure]
Cancellation fee:None (free of charge)

[3 days before departure]
Cancellation fee:30% of the total tour fee

[the day before departure 1 day before departure]
Cancellation fee:40% of the total tour fee

[On the departure day On the day]
Cancellation fee:50% of the total tour fee

[After departure or in case of no-show]
Cancellation fee:100% of the total tour fee

About taxi drivers and sightseeing・Concerning your luggage
・For your convenience, we have arranged for taxis and mini-vans to allow you the comfort of traveling without being preoccupied about handling your luggage. Taxis will be available regardless of the number of participants however, due to space limitations, we ask you to inform us should you be traveling with more than 3 pieces per person (additional costs may incur). To respect your privacy, we work exclusively with experienced drivers who can only speak Japanese. For necessary information, we have prepared a separate document with useful phrases in English and other foreign languages.

・During the tour, large items such as suitcases and duffle bags will be kept in the trunk of the taxis. When getting on and off, please feel free to request access to your belongings from the driver at any time. However, we ask that you keep any valuable and fragile items as well as perishable food items with you at all times. Please acknowledge that we are not liable for any damages to your luggage in the event of an accident during transportation. We do not take responsibility for the damage, loss or theft of items due to negligence of the transportation company or its employees.
For customers joining tours during the winter period
・Over the winter season (December to March), it is not uncommon to see snow in Japan. Please understand that weather-related changes in the road conditions will also impact the tour schedule. If you need to catch a train or a flight to another city at the end of the tour, we advise you to give yourself extra time to work around any potential delays.
Itinerary Changes
・Tourist spots may sometimes need to be changed, or the length of travel time required may be different due to traffic conditions, etc. Please note that additional charges may be applicable if the arrival time is later than the end time specified in the itinerary.
Tour operation: regarding the minimum number of participants
・Tours may be canceled if the minimum number of travelers is not reached. In that case, an e-mail notifying customers to this effect will be sent up to 12 days before the start of the tour. Full refunds shall be issued for any canceled tours.

2018-07-06 18:42:28
Veggie lunch in a spiritual place

Matsuhiro Castle is a great selfie spot! We had to wait a few minutes but we managed to get a perfect picture in front of the castle gates. It looks like we’ve gone back in time! The shojin ryori was something special. I’m a veggie and it was hard to find vegetarian or vegan food in Japan. This was ideal and eating it in a real life Buddist temple made it even more special.

Our Expert on This Area

Masahiro Ogawa, head priest of the Eidai Temple Lodging of the Zenko-ji Temple, Shinshu Area

Zenko-ji Temple is our nation’s greatest sacred ground, promoting an all-encompassing approach and tolerance on all levels. It does not discriminate against gender or religious preferences. With Zenko-ji Temple at its center, the city of Nagano is Japan's largest temple town, welcoming over 5 million visitors per year. I hope you will enjoy Nagano, a city where history and tradition are still very much alive.

Hiroko Handa, secretary of the Ecole de Matsushiro Club (posing outside of the Matsushiro Tourist Information Center, with the flag for the Sanada Exhibition).

Carp gliding through the waters of the moat which surrounds the Yamadera Jouzan Residence; these are everyday sights here, which for me is what gives this town its charm. As most people born in Matsushiro spend their entire lives here, it is not uncommon for three generations of one family to all have been educated at the same quaint elementary school. There is plenty to see, but without a doubt the best part is the old city and the unique walk through history it offers. Please enjoy our charming little town.

Historical Nagano (Day Tour of Zenko-ji with Shojin Ryori)

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Number of persons
Adult
Infant (0-2 years old, no meals)
Child (ages under 10 years old)
*If your child would like the same meal options as adults, please register them as an adult.
Tour

Number of participants (2-4) persons
・You will have a taxi entirely at your disposal, allowing you to enjoy your trip in full privacy.

Number of participants (1-8) persons
・Tours available starting from one guest.
・If less than 6 participants are booked, the tour may not operate.
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