Enoshima 江ノ島 is an island in the southwest of Kanagawa prefecture that is situated right in the middle of the coast at the bay. It is about 1.5 hours from Tokyo, and you can even take the Romance Car from Shinjuku! We set off just a little after the break of dawn…… at 9:30am. The trains were full of people going to the beach! In this sweltering August heat in the middle of summer, a frolic in the water is much welcomed!
After alighting at Katase-Enoshima station, we decided to take a walk across the bridge that links the mainland to Enoshima. But not before slapping some sunscreen on! Also, there are no convenience stores on Enoshima so it is recommended that you get whatever you need near the station first! And off we go! Right next to the pier there’s a motorboat tour service that goes between here and the back of Enoshima near the caves. We were going to walk through the island anyways, so we skipped that. Right next to the bridge was the famous Shonan Beach: our next stop after a walk and lunch on the island. There were throngs of happy sun-kissed people stand-up paddling, jet skiing, and windsurfing! Get some Black Punch (I got it because of the funny name but it’s just cola chuhi) for crossing the bridge! And you can see the Enoshima Candle from afar.
Upon crossing the bridge we were greeted with.. Ice cream: soft serve and some ice cream squeezed from pre made tubs, and even dippin dots (which I haven’t seen in a loooong time)! We had mango and vanilla swirl, and wasabi. The heat was so bad that they melted incredulously fast! Wasabi was weird but pretty good… Creamy but with a tangy slightly stingy aftertaste. Definitely an acquired taste.
Along the main street, there were manju 饅頭 (dense Japanese pastry), shirasu しらす (whitebait), and senbei せんべい (grilled crackers) stores. The tiny whitebait seem to be the resident fish of Enoshima. There are stores selling them sashimi style or boiled; one of them was all-you-can-eat!
We saw a line in front of something but ignored it, as usual. But then we spotted someone with a huge sheet of cracker, that had a WHOLE langoustine in it. Say what! Check out the photo. And it led back to.. that very line. Sweaty and sticky when it was finally our turn (it wasn’t that long, probably 10-15 minutes), we got to stand in front of the flat iron pans and watch the cooking process. Depending on your order, octopus, jellyfish or a mini “lobster” (so said the sign) was laid on a waffle griddle contraption albeit without the concaved parts. The senbei master then pressed down and tightened the top, flattening them to a wafer-thin sheet. Tada, and there’s your senbei! It was an interesting sight and sound (of seafood being squished) to behold.
There were also many stores that sold glassware, shells and all sorts of funky trinkets. I chose a hand-sewn purse and a kitty spectacle case as gifts for a special someone’s birthday.
There are 2 ways to the Enoshima temple: by escalator or by foot. The path by foot is easily doable so do give it a try! At the first switch you can see a sign that tells you which birth years are lucky. B’s was on it! Sadly mine wasn’t but it’s alright I’ll rub off of him! There was a viewpoint with a scenic view of the beach and the port. Oh did I forget to mention that there is a port on the main island! That’s where all the fresh fish are supplied from, I guess. The next stop was a water point before the shrine where we could wash our hands with holy water. There’s a sign that warns against dipping your head and feet in. I wonder who would do that..
Up another flight of stairs, we reached Enoshima shrine. We walked in a figure of 8 through the ensou 円相 gate, for good luck! We saw many people praying for their fortunes; supposedly if you get a bad fortune but successfully tie it on the fixture with your left hand, the bad luck may be averted! But of course, take it with a pinch of salt. B and I got each other and our families omamori, or Japanese amulets. Ours were the cool dragon ones. Don’t they look fierce? Dragon power!
Enoshima was believed to have been created by a goddess named Benzaiten, whom an evil five-headed dragon fell in love with. The aforementioned caves are artificially fortified and as the legend has it, were where the dragon resided while repenting, reforming and pining for her. She is known to be the goddess of love and music, and people make wishes at Enoshima Shrine in hopes of her blessing. B wished that the spirit of the dragon protected me!
The lanterns that we saw all around had a symbol of 3 triangles, the crest of the Hojo clan who had jurisdiction over the island. The dragon whom the prominent Hojo family had prayed to, left them 3 scales, thus the crest was born. B was very humorous and saw the connection between this and the triforce in Zelda. I was not very amused (sorry!), but got distracted when we spotted some turtles hiding in the shade!
We then strolled to the Dragon Love Bell 龍恋の鐘. B was very convinced that the effect would be even more powerful with our fierce dragon amulets. The other couples looked like high schoolers so we left pretty quickly. A short walk away was the Enoshima Candle, and a pathway down to the caves. They were much more fortified (read: artificial) than I thought, so we just stood along the water line and watched the waves crash on the man made rock. On the way there were some restaurants that had a nice view of the water. This one’s name was Fujimitei 富士見亭, or Fuji View Pavilion!
By now it was almost 1pm, and just about time for zaru soba and tamago don. But the “pièce de résistance” was this street snack of grilled octopus! The smokiness of the charcoal fire blended with the tare sauce glaze perfectly; flavors dancing on the palette, slowly titillating the taste buds, it was perfect.
After a hearty energy recharge, it was time to head to the beach. Shonan Beach has a reputation for being one of the country’s best beaches, but we couldn’t really agree with that because the water had some rubbish in it. The sand was fine grained and grey. There were many beach bars and courts for beach paddle ball. It looked really fun! We set up camp on a nice shady spot, and then dove right into the water! It’s relatively shallow even a little away from the shoreline. But it was still super fun! In the pseudo busy daily grind, I had forgotten how happy the ocean makes me. It was undeniably liberating.
Just before the sunset, it was time to go home. I snapped a shot of these pretty nama 生 grapefruit cocktails sitting by the road! It was a truly memorable day at Enoshima!
Kanagawa: A Stone’s Throw Away from Tokyo