Zenkoji Temple is located in Motoyoshi town in Nagano City. Nagano City is located in Nagano prefecture and is part of the Chubu Region in Japan. Zenkoji Temple is the most important temple in the Nagano Prefecture and for the people of Nagano City. This temple can be easily reached from JR Nagano Station by bus.
Zenkoji Temple is not part of the Kannon Pilgrimage circuits but the pilgrims doing the Bandou or Saikoku Kannon Pilgrimage circuit usually officially complete their pilgrimage by visiting Zenkoji Temple. Some of them also start and end their Kannon pilgrimage from this temple.
Zenkoji Temple Seal
According to the legend, before Buddhism was introduced to Japan, King Seimei of Kudara (the present day Korea) sent various presents to then Emperor of Japan (around 552 AD) in an attempt to increase relationships between Korea and Japan. Included in these presents are a Image of Buddha and various other Buddhist artifacts. (Please read my pages about Shintoism and Buddhism for more information) This very Image of Buddha, caused various rifts within the ruling clans (one supporting the old Japanese religion called Shintiosm and the other supporting the new religion Buddhism). During the feuds the Image was lost in the nearby canal. This Image was later recovered by a Buddhist Priest called Yoshimitsu Honda. Priest Yoshimitsu Honda then took the Image and enshrined it in his home. This place was then had a temple established around it and the Image came to be known as the "Golden Triad". The temple since then called Zenko, from the Chinese reading of Yoshimitsu's name. Today, the actual image is never shown, but every seventh year an exact copy is revealed in a grand ceremony called "Gokaicho".
Prayer hall inside Zenkoji Temple (Meiji Era Drawing)
The above pictures shows a Meiji Era (1893) drawing depicting a 150 Mat (tatami) Prayer Hall within the main worship hall of the Zenkoji Temple. Every morning a ritual is held by the head priest of the temple, blessing and praying the visitors for their salvation and that of the world.
Here is a video of this famous temple in Nagano Prefecture: