There are three key dating spots around Tokyo that locals always talk about. The first is in Odaiba, the second in Yokohama and the third is the small seaside town of Enoshima – a short ride west of Kamakura. Bustling with tourists and fishermen, the seafront and island, is flooded with courting couples on the weekend. But even if you don’t have a special person to take, Enoshima is still an amazing area that anyone can enjoy.
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One of the main draw cards of Enoshima is the island itself. Linked via the Benten-bashi Bridge, it’s a 20 minute walk from the mainland to the island’s many attractions. These attractions include an avenue filled with food and gift shops and three lovely shrines, conveniently dotted around the island’s hillside.
The three shrines, Hetsumiya 辺津宮, Nakatsumiya 中津宮 and Okutsumiya 奥津宮 (in walking-order), are known collectively as the Enoshima Jinja. Some say the shrines are the oldest in Kanto dating back to 552AD, yet the existing shrines, as they stand today, date back to 853AD for Nakatsumiya and 1206AD for the Hetsumiya. Each shrine has its deity, as well as its own Goshuin, which makes for an excellent souvenir.
The island has many other attractions including great views, a lighthouse and a series of caves. There are shops that dot the coast, especially near the bridge, and the sunset from the island is amazing. On some days you can even see Mount Fuji – which is visible either from the island itself or the bridge way.
Another really popular place near Enoshima is the newly rebuilt aquarium. Like the island itself, it too is filled on the weekend with couples, as well as young children. inside, the exhibits are well maintained and the live dolphin and penguin shows are a real treat.
The aquarium focuses primarily on Japan’s seas and the Pacific region. Each area within the aquarium is dedicated to a section of the ocean’s floor and the species that inhabit it. The two highlights are the massive aquarium tank that greets you when you enter the aquarium, and the Jelly Fish Hall. The mixed aquarium tank has a host of fish, including several very large and surprisingly playful stingrays and sharks. The schools of fish that swim around in unison make for an excellent photography opportunity.
Their maneuvering will keep you amused as they dance in perfect formation in front of your eyes. The jelly fish, on the other hand, look like something out of Star Wars!
Along the beachfront which borders the aquarium, are a series of places to sit, relax, enjoy an ice cream and feel the fresh breeze that comes up from the ocean. The beach even has its own wildlife – the Japanese Hawk, which can often be seen hovering above the shoreline, searching for food. These magnificent animals are usually overlooked by tourists, yet the captured my imagination – and that of my camera!
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Accessing Enoshima is relatively simple. You can either take the Enoshima Station JR or Katase-enoshima Station Odakyu Line – both of which are usually crowded. However, I recommend using the less crowded and more interesting Shonan-Enoshima Station which can be accessed via the wonderfully quaint Shonan Monorail.
Whatever route you take, Enoshima is a great town to visit. Combining nature, history and seaside, it is a wonderful place to escape the warm summer months. And, while it is a place for couples to enjoy, there are many single people who come to enjoy the atmosphere … and, who knows, perhaps while their, find some romance of their own!