Only a short train ride west of Kamakura, Enoshima (江の島) is a pleasantly touristy island just off the coast but connected by bridge with the mainland. The island offers a variety of attractions, including a shrine, park, observation tower and caves. Views of Mount Fuji can be enjoyed on days with good visibility.
Enoshima is divided into a yacht harbor accessible to motorized traffic and a forested hill which can only be explored on foot (and paid escalators) and contains most of the sights. Several shrine buildings, collectively known as Enoshima Shrine, are found around the island and are dedicated to Benten, a popular goddess of good fortune, wealth, music and knowledge. Benten is believed to have created Enoshima before subduing a five headed dragon that had been terrorizing the area.
An interesting aquarium and some of the closest beaches to Tokyo are located on the mainland just off Enoshima. The beaches on either side of the island can become very crowded with sun bathers and swimmers during the summer holidays in July and August, while the long stretches of beach that continue to Chigasaki in the west and Kamakura in the east are popular surfing spots.
Visitors to Enoshima should consider purchasing the Enopass, a combination ticket that includes admission to the island's main attractions (garden, observation tower, caves) and use of the escalators for 1000 yen. The pass provides additional discounts on admission to the Benten Statue, the Enoshima Spa and the aquarium as well as on purchases at dedicated shops and restaurants. The Enopass can be purchased at tourist information desks and the escalator ticket office.
On Enoshima Island
Hours: 8:30 to 16:30 Closed: No closing days Admission: Free (200 yen to see the Benten statue)
Enoshima Shrine consists of three separate shrines that are located in different places around the island. The main complex includes an octagonal building that houses one of Japan's three most venerated statues of Benten, the patron goddess of Enoshima. Since Benten is also the goddess of wealth, some visitors will wash their money at the shrine's pond.
Samuel Cocking Garden
Hours: 9:00 to 20:00 Admission ends 30 minutes before closing Closed: No closing days Admission: 200 yen (garden), 500 yen (garden and observation tower)
A pleasant park with a 60 meter tall observation tower that also serves as lighthouse, the Sea Candle, is built on the former site of the residence of Samuel Cocking, a British trader who purchased a considerable part of Enoshima in the late 19th century and built a botanical garden there.
Hours: 9:00 to 18:00 (until 16:00 from mid/late October to February) Closed: No closing days (except when the weather is very bad) Admission: 500 yen
Two touristy and easily walkable caves can be found in the cliffs along Enoshima's southern coast. The first cave contains some Buddhist statues, while the second cave is dedicated to the legendary dragon that used to terrorize the area.
Hours: 9:00 to 18:00 Closed: No closing days Admission: Free
When the government forcefully separated Shinto and Buddhism during the Meiji Period, all three temples on Enoshima were destroyed and their land sold off. It was not until 1993 that a Buddhist temple returned to the island: Enoshima Daishi, a modern temple of the Shingon Sect, houses a six meter tall statue of Fudomyo, a protector of Buddhism.
Enoshima Island Spa
Hours: 10:00 to 22:00 (Mar to Nov), 11:00 to 21:00 (Dec to Feb) Admission ends one hour before closing Closed: No closing days Admission: 3175 yen (1965 yen for entry after 18:00) No-tattoo policy enforced
The Enoshima Island Spa (Enospa) is a resort and day spa built along the rocky shore of Enoshima. The resort offers hot spring baths (enjoyed naked, gender separated) as well as indoor and outdoor pools (bathing suit required, mixed). Some of the pools are found in an artificial cave and there are views of Mount Fuji from the pools and baths on days with good visibility.
At the end of a short side trail stands a bell on top of Enoshima's hill with nice views over the ocean. Due to a love related legend involving Benten and the dragon, couples ring the bell together and write their names on locks that they leave attached to the fence, similar to the wooden prayer plates (ema) left at shrines.
The southern coastline of Enoshima is made up of jagged cliffs that fall steeply towards the ocean below before they suddenly level out just at the waterline, forming wide stone plates where people gather during low tide to enjoy sunbathing and fishing. The Iwaya Caves are also found there, as well as the landing place of the small Bentenmaru boats that provide a connection to the mainland on weekends and holidays.
Shirasudon (Shirasu Donburi)
Shirasu is the general term for young, white fish that measure only about a centimeter. They are caught in large numbers in Sagami Bay around Enoshima and enjoyed at local restaurants, where they are most popularly served raw or cooked over white rice as donburi. The photo to the left shows a variety of the dish where shirasu is served with salmon roe (ikura).
On the mainland near Enoshima
Hours: Vary, typically 9:00 to 17:00 (from 10:00 from Dec to Feb) Admission ends one hour before closing Closed: No closing days Admission: 2500 yen
The Enoshima Aquarium is a large, modern aquarium found along the beach across the bridge from Enoshima. Much of the aquarium, including its two story tall main tank, displays the diverse aquatic life found locally in Sagami Bay. The aquarium also has dolphin shows, penguins and seals and an excellent jellyfish display.
Ryukoji Temple was built on the site where Nichiren, founder of the Nichiren Sect of Buddhism, was almost executed. According to the legend, a timely flash of light and thunderclap convinced the executioner to abandon his task. Visitors to the temple can see the large main hall, the cave where Nichiren was imprisoned, a white stupa and a five storied pagoda that was added during the Meiji Period.
Beaches line the entire coast to the right and left of Enoshima. Directly next to Enoshima are two popular swimming beaches which are patrolled by lifeguards and lined by restaurants and shaded rest houses that play popular music and rent deck chairs and parasols to beach goers during the summer holidays. Further away, the beaches are also popular surfing spots.
Getting there and around
Enoshima is served by three train and monorail lines, each of which has its separate station: Enoden (Enoshima Station), Odakyu Railways (Katase Enoshima Station near the aquarium) and the Shonan Monorail (Shonan Enoshima Station near Ryukoji Temple).
From Tokyo by Odakyu Railways
Take an express or rapid express train from Shinjuku bound for Fujisawa Station and transfer to a local train to Katase Enoshima Station, the terminal station on the line. The entire one way trip takes 65-75 minutes and costs 640 yen. There are connections every 10 to 15 minutes. Alternatively, Romance Car limited express trains run directly between Shinjuku and Katase Enoshima (60 minutes, 1270 yen) every one or two hours on weekends and holidays.
Odakyu Railways offer the Enoshima Kamakura Free Pass that includes a round trip ticket between Shinjuku and Fujisawa and unlimited use of Enoden trains between Fujisawa and Kamakura and Odakyu trains between Fujisawa and Enoshima. The pass is valid for one day and costs 1520 yen. It is a good value if you also visit Kamakura, but it does not pay off if you visit Enoshima alone.
From Tokyo by Japan Railways (JR)
Take the JR Tokaido Line from Tokyo Station or the JR Shonan-Shinjuku Line from Shinjuku Station to Fujisawa Station (45-50 minutes, 990 yen) and transfer to either the Enoden (10 minutes, 220 yen) or Odakyu Railway (7 minutes, 160 yen) for Enoshima. Alternatively, get off at Ofuna (40-45 minutes, 820 yen) and transfer to the Shonan Monorail for an exciting ride to Enoshima (15 minutes, 320 yen, stand or sit at the front of the car for interesting views).
The one way trip between Kamakura and Enoshima by Enoden train takes 25 minutes and costs 260 yen. There are trains about every ten minutes.