Day Tripping – Enoshima

By Mark Ellis
Photos by Marcellus Nealy

As wonderful as Tokyo is, it’s nice to get away for a day and visit other places. I am sure you are aware, each town in Japan has it own unique characteristics.  From Tokyo there are many place you can reach by train that are close enough to visit for a day trip.  In a previous article we paid a visit to Kamakura.  Today let’s take look at another place in the Shonan area, Enoshima.
Enoshima is a small island and only has about a 4km circumference.   It is connected to the mainland by a bridge.  The whole island is dedicated to Benaiten, the goddess of everything that flows, including, water, the wind, words, creative energy, money and music.  It is a very popular place for tourists because there is a lot to do and see there.
Enoshima Shrine is one of the main attractions.  It is made up of three separate shrines, which are located on the island.  They are HetsunomiyaJinja (Shrine at the Edge), OkutsunomiyaJinja (Shrine of the deep), and NakatsunomiyaJinja (Shrine in the center).  Each of the shrines that make up the entire complex offer something unique.  For example, Hetsunomiya is the first shrine tourists see when they arrive to Enoshima.  It is dedicated to the Shinto goddess of the sea, Tagitsuhime.  The shrine also houses a statue of Benaiten naked and playing a lute.  This representation of the goddess is said to very unusual.  The other two shrines each have equally intriguing stories.  The beauty of the architecture and décor makes them worth a visit.
Another thing you must see when you go to the island is the Iwaya Caves.  There are two separate but adjoining caves.  One cave is about 150 meters long.  It is the enshrining place of the Munaka trio of goddesses and Amaterasu, the sun goddess.  The second cave, which is 56 meters long, is home to the Dragon God, who protects the fishermen.  At the end of the corridor you can see the dragon peering through the darkness at the back of the cave.
Another attraction that can be found on the island is the Samuel Cocking Garden, which, as the name suggests, was once the property of British merchant Samuel Cocking.  The beautiful park features a magnificent display of flowers and the Sea Candle, an observation tower from which you can get a full view of the island. 
If you have children or if you are interested in marine life then you can visit the spectacular Enoshima Aquarium.  They are particularly proud of their Sagami Bay Zone because it features a giant school of sardines as well as a large host of aquatic life that can found in the area.  They also have exotic jellyfish, penguins, and dolphins that put on shows daily.  The aquarium is not actually on the island.  It is located just before the bridge that connects the island with the mainland.
Finally, for the ultimate in luxurious decadence let me suggest the Enoshima Island Spa.  It offers aromatherapy massage, shiatsu, natural hot springs that are both the traditional naked kind and a separate bathing suit area.  They also have a sauna, indoor and outdoor heated pools, oxygen therapy capsules and much more.  A visit to the spa alone can be a whole day experience.
There are so many more attractions on the island that I couldn’t list here such as shrines, shops, restaurants and more.  Enoshima is a great place to relax, have fun, eat well and enjoy being in Japan.   It really is the perfect day trip.