So you have done just about all you can think of in Tokyo and are looking to expand your horizons. You want to see a little more of what the rest of Japan is like, but don’t have the time for a 2-3 day excursion?
In that case, I highly recommend checking out Kanagawa Prefecture’s Enoshima area. Located roughly a one hour train ride from Shibuya or Tokyo stations, with just one transfer at Fujisawa Station, Enoshima is a great place to check out with friends, or even on your own.
Although the area is famous for Shonan beach as well, it is the actual Eno Island that I would recommend for a fun afternoon of exploration with your camera.
Getting Onto the Island
After arriving at Kitase-Enoshima Station, you have to walk across a 600m bridge that leads you from the mainland beach area to the island. It is a bit of a walk on a hot day, but it’s also a decent warmup for all the walking you will be doing around the island.
Also, on a nice day you can see Mt Fuji from the bridge ー off to your right side ー as you walk towards the island. So take your time and enjoy the walk.
Upon arriving on Enoshima, you are first greeted by several shops and seido-no-torii, a beautiful bronze arch (青銅の鳥居), which is basically the entrance to the rest of the walking course on the island. Walking up this narrow street you will find a small group of souvenir shops (like any Japanese tourist area) which can be fun to pop into and find some light hearted souvenirs for yourself and friends back home.
While exploring the shops, consider that there are already a couple of cute side streets in the immediate area, including one that can lead you down to the ocean. So take your time exploring, even though you have just started your day on the island.
Walking past the shops to the end of the street, you come to what is known as the Enoshima Shrine. This shrine is dedicated to the female kami Benten, and is separated into three distinctive areas: He-tsu-miya, Naka-tsu-miya and Oku-tsu-miya. These areas are all connected via staircase, and although there are escalators (for a fee) to ease your burden, they don’t actually save you much time, so I highly recommend you take the stairs.
I really enjoyed wandering through Enoshima Shrine. I got lucky with the mid-afternoon lighting, as the sun was still just high enough to shine through the trees and give me some dramatic backlight for several shots.
Sea Candle and Samuel Cocking Garden
As you walk through the shrine you come to the middle of the island. Here you will find some much appreciated rest areas, great views of the ocean, and the Samuel Cocking Garden. This garden goes back to 1880 and was created by the British merchant Samuel Cocking. It is a well known botanical garden, but as I generally don’t take pictures of flowers, I did not enter the garden on this trip.
One bonus for those who do enter the garden though is the Enoshima Sea Candle, which is located within the garden grounds. A large lighthouse and lookout tower that is visible from the mainland, this tower is a symbol of Enoshima. It provides spectacular views of the surrounding areas. If you like flowers and have the time, I think this garden would be a nice addition to your trip to the island.
From this point, you begin a slow descent to the far side of the island. The walking roads here are lined with many shops and restaurants and could be a great place to grab some lunch or a cold drink and a snack. As I walked by I noticed many of the restaurants had wonderful ocean views, and really wished I had come earlier so as to have time to enjoy a cold beer while watching the ocean.
For photographers, this area of the island is great, as you seem to almost head back in time. The buildings here are older. Some are even abandoned, and you get a real feel of what the island (and Japan) might have looked like 20-30 years ago. I love these kinds of places and found myself taking lots of pictures here.
Oku-tsu-miya’s Feline Protectors
After a little more walking, you will come to Enoshima Shrine’s Oku-tsu-miya, which is the last major part of the shrine. This is a lovely shrine area for sure, but what I enjoyed most was finding several cats resting in the shade, trying to escape the heat of the summer day.
Enoshima is actually quite well known for having lots of catsーall around the islandーso if you enjoy photographing street cats, I think you will love your time here. One piece of advice though, as it is so hot in the summer, most of the cats will be hiding/sleeping during the hotter hours of the day. I recommend going earlier or staying later if you travel in the summer, or try visiting in the spring or fall when the temperatures are lower. That way, you can expect to see more activity out of the local feline community.
The Pacific Ocean
You are now on the final stretch! After walking down yet a few more flights of stairs the path opens up and you are greeted with another great view of the ocean from the back side of the island. Here you are able to walk out on the rocks and get right up to the ocean. I was lucky when I visited as the ocean was calm that day. But if there are waves, please be careful as the rocks can be very slippery.
It was getting late in the day so I finished my photographic adventure here. But if you have more time, there are also the Iwaya Caves, which you can visit. These caves are said to be a place where Buddhist monks trained. They can also be a great way to cool off from the harsh summer heat. Please be aware that you do need to purchase a ticket to enter the caves.
On a final note, be aware that the road out to this area does not loop back around to the start of the island. You will need to walk all the way back the way you came.
Keep your energy up and enjoy your day!