Summer days are fun when spent on the island of Enoshima (江の島). It is a small offshore island which is home to some of the closest sandy beaches to Tokyo (東京) and is just an hour drive from the capital city which is why it becomes an ideal destination for fun day trip escapes. If you don’t know what activities to do on the island, here are 4 of the entertaining ones which you might want to try.
This is a popular midsummer beach which extends along the island’s seaside for about a kilometer. This is where urbanites have fun while surfing under the sun. It is a great way to spend youthful days with friends while having the opportunity to meet new people. The beach is totally packed with people so this is not the place for you if you’re looking for peace and quiet. Sometimes, there are loudspeakers blaring J-pop music coupled with announcements which make the place quite noisy. But this is something fun especially for the youngsters who make up the majority of the visitor population.
So if you’re ready to loosen up and wear your swimwear, one-piece, two-piece, or swimming trunks, then this is the place to show it off. Of course, do not forget to put on sunblock lotion as the heat of the sun is terribly hot especially during summer days. By 5:00 p.m., you’ll get a hint to start going home by listening to the closing song, Auld Lang Syne. This is basically the default closing time song in Japan which you’d often hear in some facilities.
A large modern aquarium can be found on the island of Enoshima. It is called the Enoshima Aquarium. Much of the creatures featured in the tank reflect the aquatic life of organisms in the nearby Sagami Bay. It has dolphin and penguin shows and a beautiful display of jellyfishes. Here, you can discover the attractions and diversity of Sagami Bay and learn about the cutting-edge deep sea research methods being used for long-term breeding. The Jellyfish Fantasy Hall displays amazing breeds of jellyfishes which is one of the world’s best. You can also learn about the details of their mysterious ecosystem as well as their life cycles through Jellyfish Science. You can also have an aquatic close-up look on penguins’ and seals’ motions and how they evolved through time as they hunt for food in the ocean.
If you feel like shopping, you can head to the main shop which is on the right side of the exit. Take joy in finding a great variety of marine critters as well as original Enosui merchandise and souvenirs of the Shonan coast. To the left of the exit is the Shonan Café where special meal options such as shirasu-don (rice topped with small sardines) or curry with rice are being offered. There are only 60 seats available so you better grab a seat fast. There’s also a new facility that provides sea turtles a comfortable environment to live in where visitors can watch them closely all year round.
“Enoshima Shrine” is a collective name for three shrines: Hetsunomiya, Nakatsunomiya, and Okutsunomiya. It has been enjoyed by tourists for a long period of time as a casual enjoyment of scenic beauty which offers an easy access from Tokyo. The three shrines are thought to have originated from a single shrine which has been built in a cave in the island’s south in 552. In order to reach the shrine, you’ll have to go over the Benten-bashi bridge. The gatehouse is called Zuishinmon which means “pure soul” in hopes of giving visitors a refreshing mind as they offer their prayers here.
Hetsunomiya is the first shrine you’ll be passing by. It was established in 1206, was reconstructed in 1675 and houses the goddess of music. Next, you’ll find Nakatsunomiya which was founded in 853. Walking further will lead you to the last shrine, Okutsunomiya which was reconstructed after being lost in 1841. Visiting these 3 shrines is practically like strolling around the island which is very historical. You can also enjoy the lighthouse view if you still have enough time left. It will approximately take you over 2 hours to explore the shrine and the surrounding place. It is a relatively nice place to wander about if you’re very much curious about Japanese history.
At the very top of the island is the Samuel Cocking Garden. It is a place filled with so many interesting things to see and has quite a history as well. It was established by Samuel Cocking, an Irish who came to Japan in 1869. He was very intelligent and used his fine knowledge in putting up his business. He married a Japanese woman, Riki Miyata, and decided to build a villa on the island. It consisted of 3 ponds, a flower garden and, a greenhouse with a steam heating system. However, in the later years, he had a misfortune as the British bank he dealt with went bankrupt which had him reduce his business. He then retired and died in 1914 of a heart attack.
Nowadays, you can still visit the garden where you can see thousands of rare plants which Cocking collected and put a lot of his efforts into nurturing them. There’s a beautiful lighthouse shaped like a candle (Enoshima Sea Candle – 江の島シーキャンドル) which is 59.8 meters high. It is so tall that its light can be seen even at a distance of 46 km. The view from the observation deck is breathtaking. If the weather is nice, you can see the beautiful Mt. Fuji. You can also see it during winter as long as the day is sunny. The place is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Admission fee for the garden only is 200 yen (100 yen for children) while admission for the tower and the garden all together is 500 yen (250 yen for children).
These are just some of the entertaining things that you can do once you visit the island of Enoshima. It is a pleasantly touristy island so you’ll definitely have fun touring around with your family and friends.