Love is something many of us want to experience and maintain for a lifetime. In Japan, there are numerous spots that couples can visit that will to boost their relationship. Enoshima is one such location with attractions such as the lover’s bell (龍恋の鐘) making it a great destination for couples.
Legend has it that couples who ring the bell together and secure a lock on Enoshima’s Lover’s Hill (恋人の丘) will be blessed with eternal love. However, is that really the case? Let’s look at another side of Enoshima that most people do not know and find out about the goddess that is said to dwell there.
The goddess enshrined in Enoshima Shrine (江ノ島神社), Benzaiten, is the only female of the seven Gods of fortune in Japan. Benzaiten has origins in India and also goes by the name of Saraswati. Originally, Benzaiten was known to be the goddess of water, time, the arts, and entertainment; however, Benzaiten is also considered to be the goddess of wealth.
Notably, Benzaiten is seen as a protector of Enoshima as myths say that the goddess defeated a five-headed dragon and, along with that, caused the island of Enoshima to rise. Despite her heroic image, however, Benzaiten is known to be extremely jealous and when she sees a happy couple, she gets angry and tries to break them up.
Being a young, beautiful goddess with great power, Benzaiten was in search of a man to spend the rest of eternity with. However, among the six other gods of fortune, most of them were older than her, and Benzaiten did not want to choose among them.
According to popular myths, Benzaiten fell in love with Vaisravana (毘沙門天), one of the four heavenly kings of Buddhism, who is young, handsome and of equal status. However, Vaisravana started a family with another, angering Banzaiten. Benzaiten started to break happy couples up for revenge. In another version of the story, it is said that Benzaiten feels that all men in the world belong to her as she is the almighty goddess.
Outside Japanese Buddhism, Benzaiten is not known to be jealous, causing some people to feel that this negative characteristic is a lie fabricated to keep people away from the island of Enoshima, which was known to be a place for prostitution in the past.
Despite the urban legend surrounding Enoshima, Enoshima is a place filled with exciting activities and beautiful scenery that will provide a romantic experience with your partner, so superstitions aside, visiting is highly recommended. Such tales should not be the reason to stay away from the island.
If you want to be on the safe side, you might want to charm Benzaiten by heading to Enoshima Shrine. Who knows? Benzaiten might bless your relationship with happiness rather than with failure. After all, a popular version of the tale did mention her falling in love with the dragon that tormented her land. A goddess that could love her enemy should be respected rather than feared. Whether you’re visiting alone, with friends, family, or with your partner, Enoshima is filled with great things to do.