Home to Japan's largest pendulum clock (on the building's exterior) and over 300 other timepieces including fascinating medieval Japanese creations, this museum shows Japan's love of monozukuri, the art of creating things.
Legend claims there are five white doves hidden in the plaque of the San-mon gate; the five short strokes in the characters for Zenk?-ji do look remarkably dove-like. See if you can spot them too. In the upper character (?, zen) they're the two uppermost strokes; in the middle character (?, k?) they're the strokes on either side of the top; and in the 'ji' (?) it's the short stroke on the bottom left.
Founded in the 7th century National Treasure Zenkō-ji is home to the revered statue Ikkō-Sanzon, said to be the first Buddhist image to arrive in Japan (AD 552). Not even 37 generations of emperors have seen the image, though millions of visitors flock here to view a copy every seven years during the Gokaichō Matsuri. Zenkō-ji's immense popularity stems partly from its liberal welcoming of pilgrims, regardless of gender, creed or religious belief. Its chief officiants are both a priest and a priestess. The current building dates from 1707. Any bus from bus stop 1 in front of JR Nagano Station's Zenkō-ji exit will get you to the temple (¥100, about 10 minutes, alight at the Daimon bus stop).