Enoshima is my favorite tourist accident. Being new to Japan, I remained on the Enoden Line for far too long. The serene view from the train followed the coast, and the lighthouse poked out of the island. As we walked closer to the island, the commemorative dragon lanterns from the 1,450th anniversary of the island in stared us down as they beckoned for us to cross Benten Bridge.
Enoshima Island, located in Fujisawa, was once connected by a land bridge. Now, a bridge for traffic and pedestrians covers the old sandbar that peeks through the water at low tide. For an island that is only 4km in circumference, culture and experience is packed tightly in the hill.
The Japanese Buddhist goddess of music and entertainment is enshrined on the island – her name I later learned from a monk is Benzaiten. According to legend, she is the one who caused the island to rise from the ocean. The biggest of the shrines on the island is Hetsunomiya Shrine, which is at the lowest point of the hill and starts your spiritual journey through the island.
Enoshima is full of many experiences and adventures. If you arrive early enough in the day, you can experience most of it with a Mt. Fuji sunset seeing you off! When you cross the bridge and see the Bronze Torii Gate, you can find the Enoshima Tourist Information Booth and pick up a free Enoshima illustrated map, which is available in multiple languages. Always check that information booth when you arrive for coupons – food and discounts for experience prices. The map is extremely important for temple information.
Samuel Cocking Garden
What makes Enoshima unique is that there is a mixture of cultures that can be found in the Enoshima Samuel Cocking Garden. Throughout the garden you will find stones and memorials from China, Korea, and neighboring Japanese prefectures. From memorials to archeological digs, there is also LonCafe with a seaside view. There is still a beautiful garden, and every winter there is a beautiful illumination. (Price: ¥200)
Sea Candle’s observation deck
Since you have already arrived in the garden, it would be a wonderful time to take advantage of the next main attraction on the island. For a full birds-eye view of the island, Fuji (west), and the Miura Peninsula (east), take a trip up the Sea Candle’s observation deck. (Price: ¥500)
Bell of the dragon’s love
For all of the romantics in the world, there is a side-attraction in Enoshima just for you! The Ryuren no Kane (the bell of the dragon’s love) is up a side path just past the last Enoshima Shrine (Okutsunomiya). Lovers both young and old come to this bronze bell to ring it and promise their eternal affection, where it may echo upon the sea. (Price: Free!)
These caverns are not only culturally important but historical and folkloric in nature. The Iwaya Cave was made by erosion of waves for centuries, and the system of caverns is over 200m long all together. To learn about the island’s dragon legend, you need to walk through this cavern system along a footbridge and enjoy the views of Sagami Bay and Mt. Fuji. Enoshima has not only these views but art, music, and lighting effects to give you a wonderful aesthetic experience. Make sure to always check the Enoshima Iwaya page because there are weather factors that may cause it to be shut down in short notice for your safety. (Price: ¥500)
Mt. Fuji viewing spots
This is something to check your tourist map for! Fujisawa has marked the two most ideal spots for viewing Mt. Fuji, but there are still a few more spots where you can see this sacred mountain. My favorite spot is at the very end of your island tour at Chigogafuchi, but be aware that you need to take the long walk through the island to go back. The next spot is at the top of the Enoshima Sea Candle. If you just happen to be in the area for a short time, check out the view from the Benten Bridge. The sun sets behind Mt. Fuji so anywhere in between or on the beach facing the mountain will be worth the moment of admiration.
- Paid car and bicycle parking available on the island (Price and times vary).
- Wheelchair accessibility: Getting to the island, yes, but once your ascent up the hills starts, no.
- Escalators: The Escar only goes up and not go down. (Price: ¥360)
From Shinjuku Station take the Odakyu Line towards Fujisawa, then from Fujisawa Station take the Odakyu Enoshima Line to Katase-Enoshima Station. Price ¥630, 1.5-hour ride.
Hours of service vary throughout the island, check http://www.discover-fujisawa.jp/ for more information.