Nagano City Cultural Assets and Historic Sites

Nagano city is known as a cultural city from ancient time. Numerous precious cultural assets remain all over Nagano city. Some of these assets include: An old burial mounds of Yayoi era, a town built originally in front of Zenkoji temple and Matsushiro, the former castle town of Sanada Jyumangoku. Here are some typical cultural assets, historic sites and a protected plant which are remains of the past -

  • The main hall of Zenkoji temple with a Zushi - A National Treasure

    Zenkoji Temple, Nagano City. The main hall of Zenkoji temple(the left side)
    Figure: Zenkoji Temple and The main hall of Zenkoji temple(the left side)

    It is said that Zenkoji temple was built in 642, which was the year of Emperor Kogyoku ascended. However, it was first burnt down in 1179 and it subsequently caught fire on ten separate occasions. The present main hall was set to rebuild in 1703 and completed in 1707. The designer was Soga Kora who was a great master builder in Edo and Manbei Kimura, a master builder, directed to build the structure.
    The main hall of Zenkoji temple (The front)
    The main hall of Zenkoji temple (The front)

    The main hall of Zenkoji temple with a Zushi which is the structure to set the Buddhist images.
    The main hall of Zenkoji temple with a Zushi to set the Buddhist images
    Figure: The main hall of Zenkoji temple with a Zushi to set the Buddhist images

    The poles are the columns with Chimaki which whittles the top part of them. The main hall has no doors, however there is some lattice. The front part has 5.45 meters eaves and the both sides have the smaller eaves as well.

    Gejin room, Chujin room, Naijin room and Nainaijin room are located, in order, from the entrance in the main hall.

    There is a raised floor of lapis lazuli which is for the main image on the left side of Nainaijin and the founder image of this temple is set on the right side of Nainaijin. It is completely different from other temples which have only Naijin and Gejin.

    People can enter to pray with shoes on the boarded floor. It shows the specialty of the ordinary Buddhism construction which was built in Edo era. It's one of the representative constructions in that era.

    The roof was originally thatched with the horse chestnuts (thick horse chestnut board). It was changed into the bark-thatched roof in 1926.The roof was renewed again after the Showa big repairing in November, 1989, and some beams of the loft were also reinforced. A national treasure designation book says the main hall of the Zenkoji temple as a national treasure includes one Zushi and a hip roof with Hongawara style boards.

    This Zushi has three images of Zenkoji couples and their son, Zenza and it is in Sankyo room. The long and narrow pedestal for the image is a box style Buddhist altar lacquered in black. An ancient document says "There is a box altar with the perpendicular boards in Zenko room."

    Zushi has bamboo blinds on the top. And its shape is a rectangle with gold foil poles and wooden tiles roof which looks real tiles. Its construction era is not clear.

    Zenkoji Temple
    Year: 1707
    Proprietor: Zenkoji temple
    Designation: March 31st, 1953
    Address: 491 Motoyoshi-cho, Nagano, Nagano Prefecture 380-0851, Japan
    Hour: 9:30 AM ~ 4:30 PM (JST: UTC+9) everyday, 9:30 AM ~ 2:00 PM only in 31st December every year.
    Tel: +81 26 234 3591
    Fax: +81 26 235 2151
    Website: http://www.zenkoji.jp/ENGLISH/about/index.html

  • Katsurayama Ochiai Shrine Main hall with a piece of Munefuda plate

    The shrine which has some huge cedars in the woodland is located in the southern edge of Iwato village. Mr.Ochiai who was a feudal lord of the powerful clan built the shrine in Kenmu era (1332-1338), which was called Kumano shrine originally.

    Katsurayama Ochiai Shrine Main hall
    Figure: Katsurayama Ochiai Shrine Main hall

    People lived in Iriyama village and other six neighborhood villages were the believers of the shrine. The main hall, which faces the south, is called Kasuga style structure. It is one of the typical ancient shrine construction styles with a square hall (called Ikkenyashiro) and the edge rafters (called Sumigi). This style is very unusual in this area.

    The main part of the hall is 188.8 centimeters square. It is surrounded with a corridor called Kirime-en.

    To-kyo of Mittogumi, the carvings, on the columns support the beams. The triangle part at the back called Sasugumi supports the ridgepole. The front has a double board door and other walls are made of boards.

    Katsurayama Ochiai Shrine Eaves (Hijiki,Kihana)

    Katsurayama Ochiai Shrine Eaves (Hijiki,Kihana)
    Figure: Katsurayama Ochiai Shrine Eaves (Hijiki,Kihana)

    A beam with an inscription in the attic was found. According to the inscription, it is found that this shrine was built in 1465 and repaired by Sensaemon Sakurakoshi who lived in Zenkoji town, a master builder, and others in 1547.

    Katsurayama Ochiai Shrine
    Year: 1465
    Proprietor: Katsurayama Ochiai Shrine
    Designation: September 18th, 1936
    Address: Iriyama, Nagano, Nagano Prefecture 381-0000, Japan
    Contact - Nagano City Hall Cultural Properties Division
    Tel: 026-224-8316, 026-224-7013
    Fax: 026-224-5104

  • Jindai Cherry Tree in Suzakura Shrine

    This famous tree is called Jindai cherry tree in this area. This country designated natural monument is located in the center part of Imoi-Izumidaira community in the Suzakura shrine of Nagano city.

    The mountain which is located on the northern side of the tree blocks the strong wind. This cherry blossom tree belongs to the rose family. It is commonly known in Japan as Edohigan. It is also known by its botanical name, Azumahigan. It is distributed on the main island, Shikoku island and Kyushu island. There are some same kinds of the big Cherry trees in Japan.

    Jindai Cherry Tree in Suzakura Shrine, Nagano City
    Figure: Jindai Cherry Tree in Suzakura Shrine

    They are designated the protected plants. It is about 9 meters in root circumference and 11.3 meters in circumference at its widest point. The big trunk branches out into three other trunks. It is fairly withered, but blooms a gorgeous blossom in spring. The brightest period is between the middle of April and the end of April.

    Although it becomes weaker, it still shows great blossoms. The Edohigan designated as protected plants by Japanese government is only one of its kind in Japan. It is the most precious cultural asset in Nagano city.

    Jindai Cherry Tree (Edohigan) in Suzakura shrine
    Age: Estimated to be about 1,200 years old.
    Proprietor: Sozakura (Suzakura) shrine
    Designation: December 24th, 1935, Protected plants, a cultural asset
    Address: 513 Imoi-Izumidaira, Nagano, Nagano Prefecture 380-0883, Japan
    Tel: 026-223-6050
    Fax: 026-223-5520
    Website: http://www.nagano-cvb.or.jp/nagano/sightseeing/05_01_03a_index.html

  • National Historical Monument of Former Matsushiro Literary and Military School (Bunbu Gakko)

    Details here: Matsushiro Castle, Sanada Treasures Museum, Former Bunbu Gakko

  • General Senryu and Himezuka Burial mound

    General Senryu burial mound
    General Senryu burial mound is located at the western part of Shinonoi. It is an ancient Japanese tomb, a circular shape, with a rectangular frontage. The tomb is around the top of Mt. Yunoiri. Ishikawa village and a lot of rice fields exist on the foot of Mt.Yunoiri. Its total length of the tomb is 93 meters, the direct line of the circle is 45 meters and its height is 10 meters. The width of its frontage is 26 meters and its height is 5 meters. It is well known that the tomb consists of Fuki stones, which are used to prevent a mudslide. A cylindrical clay image, called Haniwa, is contained within the circle of the burial mound. The tomb is characterized by its large-scale hill and hemicycle.

    Senryu Burial mound
    Senryu burial mound

    The circle of the tomb was excavated by farmers in 1800. It has a pit stone hut whose length is 5.4 to 7.2 meters. Its width is 1.8 meters at its center. It is said that it was made with piles of small stones which were crafted. Its inside was painted in red. A large number of millers, wheel stones, some heads of jewel sticks, tubular copperwares, beads, copper arrowheads and other things were found in the circle. There is also a pit stone hut with 2.7 meters in length and 1.2 meters in width at the frontage. The structure is the same as the circle and some relics were also found in it. This burial mound was built between the late 4th century and the early 5th century. The tomb is regarded as important, due to its close relationship with the powers of Kinki district.
    Senryu burial mound. (The top of the circle)
    Senryu burial mound. (The top of the circle)

    Himezuka Burial mound
    The burial mound of Himezuka is the type of Japanese tomb that has a circular shape and a rectangular frontage. It is located 200 meters north of the burial mound of General Senryu and the height difference is 30 meters. Its total length is 31 meters, the height is 4 meters and the frontage's height is 2 meters. Although it hasn't been excavated, it is said that it was constructed around the middle of the 4th century same as General Senryu burial mound because of its location and the shape.
    Himezuka Burial mound
    Himezuka Burial mound

    General Senryu and Himezuka Burial mound (Senryu Shogunzuka Tumulus)
    Era: The middle of fourth century to early fifth century.
    Proprietor: Yunoiri shrine and others.
    Designation: July 14th, 1977
    Address: Shinonoi-Ishikawa, Nagano, Nagano Prefecture 388-8015, Japan
    Contact - Division of Cultural Heritage Board of Education
    Tel: 026-224-7013
    Fax: 026-224-5104
    Website: http://www.city.nagano.nagano.jp/uploaded/attachment/8407.pdf

  • The ruin of Matsushiro castle with the ruin of the new palace called Shingoten - a national historic site

    Details: Matsushiro Castle, Sanada Treasures Museum

  • Matsushiro feudal lord, Sanada family tomb in Nagona Chokoku-ji Temple - a national historic site

    Details: Matsushiro Castle, Sanada Treasures Museum, Former Bunbu Gakko