Have a day to spare? Sick of the shoulder-to-shoulder crowds of Tokyo? Want to make the most of your Japan Rail Pass? Let me tell you why Enoshima is one of the most underrated day trips from Tokyo and some of the best places to visit to make the most of your adventure.
Enoshima is a small offshore island around an hour from the hustle-bustle of Tokyo city. Located in Sagami Bay, Enoshima is linked to the mainland by a 600m bridge over the ocean with views of the closest swimming and surfing beaches to Tokyo and Yokohama. Scattered around the island are three shrines (Hetsumiya, Nakatsumiya, and Okustumiya) that make up the collectively known, Enoshima Shrine. All three are located around ten minutes from one another and can be visited by foot or by the outdoor escalators. The shrines are dedicated to Benzaiten, the goddess of art, music, and good fortune. Visitors can wash money at the designated shrines as Benzaiten is said to multiply it!
Enoshima is famous for its shirasu, or whitebait. Specifically, shirasu-don, shirasu served over rice. Benzaiten Nakamise – the main street leading up towards the shrines and further into the island – is lined with small businesses selling local delicacies. Including tako senbai, octopus crackers that are very hard to miss due to their massive size. Ice cream monaka, or green tea ice-cream sandwiched between two crispy wafer shells with red bean paste is perfect for sustaining visitors for the short hike through the island, or even as a recuperation snack on the way back down.
On the furthest side of Enoshima lies a rocky coastline called Chigogafuchi plateau. The view overlooks the ocean and is said to be one of the most romantic scenic views in Kanagawa. Just a little further along the coast are the Iwaya caves, which visitors can enter for 500JYP. Inside is a shrine, built 1500 years ago, once a site visited by monks and influential samurai after long pilgrimages.
Everywhere you look on Enoshima are picturesque views over the ocean, narrow, moss-lined stairways and local flora. Standing in the centre of the island is the Enoshima Sea Candle, an observation tower with an indoor and outdoor observation deck. A 360 view of the surrounding beaches and the entire island is visible from the top. Visitors might even spot Mt. Fuji on a clear day. The Sea Candle sits within the Samuel Cocking Garden, a botanical garden full of flowers and plants from all seasons.
Before heading back to the mainland, it’s worth taking the ten-minute walk out to the lighthouse and boardwalk. Back down Benzaiten Nakamise-Dori and past the sea-front food stores boasting buckets and buckets of live fish, crabs, octopus, and other weird sea-dwelling creatures ready to be cooked on request. During the walk, you may see cats lounging in the sun near the yacht port, Enoshima is known for its feline inhabitants and it’s not uncommon to see locals putting down food and taking care of their furry guests. However, sadly, Enoshima’s cat population has dwindled in the last few years due to the island’s growing popularity. The white lighthouse stands on the end of the long boardwalk. Be careful not to get wet as the waves crash against the rocks and splash up through the dock. (They can get dangerously large!) Watch as the yachts arrive and depart and fishermen do their best to reel in something big on the port below.
Japan Rail Pass holders can take the JR Tokaido Line from Tokyo station, changing to the locally operated Enoshima Electric Railway line to Enoshima Station. The Enoshima Electric Railway (or Enoden) is not covered by the Japan Rail Pass however a trip on this old-timey train is worth it for the experience and views alone. Why not join a tour? Our Kamakura & Enoshima Bay Drive 1-Day Tour also visit Kamakura, home of the Great Buddha, and is only half an hour from Enoshima. Tick off two must-see destinations in one day without having to navigate public transport and maps!
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