Travel Guide

Enoshima Full Guide: Things To Do & What To Eat

/ / Enoshima Full Guide: Things To Do & What To Eat
Enoshima Japan Guide Things to d Beaches What to eat

Considered the heart of Shonan (the seaside area of Sagami Bay in Kanagawa Prefecture), Enoshima (江の島) is a small offshore island connected by bridge with the mainland. Popular one-day trip destination from Tokyo, Enoshima is also a famous date spot, although at the couple’s own risk: the Goddess of the island, Benzaiten, is said to get jealous and to make the couple break up!

Located only a 23-minute ride from Kamakura, many people visit both on the same day: don’t make the same mistake! Kamakura alone deserves 2-3 days, so consider a longer stay to properly experience both Kamakura and Enoshima without haste or regrets.

History Facts

A fascinating legend is behind the birth of Enoshima. As reported by the Buddhist monk Kokei in his work “Enoshima Engi” (a history of temples and shrines in Enoshima), the area around the island had been plagued by earthquakes and storms caused by a five-headed dragon, Gozuryu.

One day, Benzaiten (also known as “Benten”, one of the Seven Gods of Luck, the goddess of literature and music, of wealth, and of femininity) appeared from the sky and caused the Island of Enoshima to arise from the waters so that it could serve as her home.

Gozuryu immediately fell in love with her and asked her to marry him. However, Benzaiten was aware of the dragon’s evil-doing and asserted that she would accept his proposal only if he vowed to stop tormenting the inhabitants and protect them instead. In the end, the Goddess agreed to marry him and when the Dragon’s time came, he laid nearby, his body becoming a hill overlooking the beautiful Benzaiten and the people of Enoshima.
Other interesting historical facts about Enoshima:

  • Utagawa Hiroshige, a famous artist, produced several paintings of Enoshima.
  • Matsuo Basho, the most famous poet during the Edo period, dedicated one of his “haiku” (short poem) to Enoshima.
  • During the Edo Period, the “Enoshima Pilgrimage” became popular, so much so that scenes of this pilgrimage were represented in Ukiyo-e (Japanese woodblock prints).

Access to Enoshima and nearby cities

There are 3 stations in Enoshima:

  • Katase-Enoshima Station via the Odakyu Enoshima Line from Fujisawa Station (157¥). To get to Fujisawa Station (located in Kanagawa Prefecture) from Tokyo:
    • Odakyu Odawara Line from Shinjuku Station (597¥);
    • JR Tokaido Line from Tokyo Station (990¥)
  • Enoshima Station via Enoden or Enoshima Electric Railway (popular railway that runs along the coastline) from Fujisawa Station (220¥) or, if you are travelling from Kamakura, from Kamakura Station (260¥)
  • Shonan-Enoshima Station via the Shonan Monorail from Ofuna Station (320¥).
    To get to Ofuna Station (located in Kanagawa Prefecture) from Tokyo:
    • Ueno-Tokyo line or Yokosuka Line from Tokyo Station (814¥)
    • Shonan-Shinjuku Line from Shinjuku Station (935¥)

Please note that the above prices are valid for IC card holders (you can purchase it at any station’s vending machine for 500¥). If you do not have one, the prices are slightly higher (3-5 cents more).

It is highly recommended to purchase the “Enopass” (1000¥) that includes admissions to popular sights suchs as the Lighthouse, Samuel Cocking Garden, Iwaya Cave and the escalator. In addition, the Enopass provides discounts at the Aquarium, restaurants and souvenir shops in the island.

On a side note, once in Enoshima you might consider exploring nearby towns such as Kugenuma and Tsujido (details below in the “Coast” section) or Kamakura (for a longer stay!).


Best time to visit and how long

Summer

Summer is definitely the season when you want to be in Enoshima, as you will get to fully experience the surrounding beach vibes. Summer has the most events:

  • Beach houses in July and August where you can grab a bite or a drink with Mt. Fuji and ocean view. Wait until sunset to see people start lighting handheld fireworks, a real taste of Japanese summer.
  • Daidogei Festival in early June, consisting of street performances.
  • Tenno-sai Festival in July, the biggest and most important festival in Enoshima, its highlight being in the “Shinkosai”, when the “Mikoshi” (portable miniature shrine) is carried from Enoshima to Koshigoe at night.
  • Tatsunokuchi Bamboo Lantern Festival in August, illumination event using 5,000 pieces of bamboo tree
  • Enoshima Lanterns in August, 1,000 lanterns that illuminate the major tourist spots.
Best time to visit Enoshima Summer Fetival
Enoshima Summer

Less events are held during the other seasons but they are significant experiences nevertheless.

Autumn

  • Fujisawa-Enoshima Firework Festival that marks the end of summer.

Winter

  • Shonan no Hoseki (Jewel of Shonan) includes the different and award-winning illumination events held throughout winter.
Best time to visit Enoshima Winter Fetival
Enoshima Winter

Spring

  • Flower festival

Just to make sure to avoid the rainy season (June-early July) and you should be fine all year round.

One day is enough to enjoy Enoshima but, especially if you live in Tokyo, I am sure the island will call you back every time you feel you need a break from the concrete jungle!


Getting around Enoshima

Definitely on foot!

It takes only 5 minutes to cross the bridge that connects the mainland with Enoshima (unless you keep stopping on the way to take breathtaking pictures of Mt. Fuji!).

I recommend walking even on the island to explore the shrines: there is an escalator available and that is included in the Enoden pass but it will take away part of the experience. Finally, I am sure that if you endure the climbing you will feel that you have earned the right to try all the street food you will encounter along the way!


Enoshima Shrines and Temples

Enoshima Shrine (江島神社)

What is fascinating about Japanese Shrines is that the buildings are scattered along the area and the visit turns into a discovery journey. So is the case with Enoshima Shrine, which is actually a collection of 3 shrines located up the hill: Hetsunomiya, Nakatsunomiya, and Okutsunomiya.

Hetsunomiya

The first on the way, you will get there by following the stairs up through a traditional red Torii (gate that marks the entrance to a Shinto shrine) first, and the Zuishinmon then, a gate modelled on the Ryugu-jo (castle under the sea that features in the Japanese tale of “Urashima Taro”).

Enoshima Shrine Hetsunomiya shrine
Hetsunomiya Shrine

At the Hetsunomiya Shrine, get in line to make a prayer to the God. Let me explain how to execute the prayer: toss a coin (it is said that the ones with a hole in them, 5¥ or 50¥ bring the best of luck), bow twice, clap your hands twice, pray (don’t forget to thank the God before you ask for anything!), bow one more time and that’s it! In front of the shrine is set up a grass-ring: pass through it to get purified!

In the area around the shrine, don’t miss the Hoanden (Octagonal Hall of Statues) and the Dragon’s Pond: as with the Zeniarai Benzaiten in Kamakura, your money is said to double if you wash it in the pond. Also, people enjoy tossing money in a basket located in the centre of the pond.

Nakatsunomiya

The second shrine by elevation, it is the most brilliant out of the three, with detailed and colourful decorations.

On the way, make sure to check out Nakatsunomiya Square, a small garden with viewing deck to enjoy a view of the yacht harbour, Kamakura and Miura Peninsula.

Nakatsunomiya Shrin Enoshima Shrine
A view from Nakatsunomiya Square

Okutsunomiya

On the way to the last shrine, you will encounter Samuel Cocking Garden and the Sea Candle Tower. Okutsunomiya is the oldest of the three and remarkable is its old Torii, donated by the first Kamakura shogun Minamoto Yoritomo.

Around the shrine make sure to take a break by the old Japanese style houses scattered on the way that serve as cafes overviewing the Pacific Ocean.

okutsunomiya shrine enoshima
A view to the Pacific Ocean

Don’s miss the Lover’s Bell of the Dragon (Ryuren-no-kane or the) in honour of Benzaiten and Gozuryu: couples who ring the bell and latch a padlock to the fence are said to be forever bound together.

Ryuko-ji Temple

Located off the island but at a 5-minute walk away from Enoshima station, this is the Temple where the dragon Gozuryu is said to have rested his head upon his death, before his body turned into mountains.


Things to do in Enoshima

Enoshima Island Spa

Engakuji Temple Kamakura Japan Guide
Engakuji Temple

As soon as you get to the Island, the western building on your right will surely catch your attention: the facility houses hot springs, ideal after your hike on the island. On the second floor, you will find a beautiful infinity pool and you will have the chance to see the majestic Mt. Fuji floating in the blue of the sea and the sky.

Benzaiten Nakamise-dori Street

Benzaiten Nakamise-dori Street Shopping Street in Enoshima
Benzaiten Nakamise-dori Street – A popular shopping street in Enoshima

After the Spa, go through the bronze Torii in front of you to enter the popular shopping street where you will find all the street food you need. Don’t miss out on:

  • Asahi Honten’s Tako Senbei (octopus crackers), they will press and smoke the octopus in front of you. The cracker is popular particularly among young Japanese girls: the big size of the Senbei makes people’s faces look smaller (a small face is a key element to beauty in Japan) when taking a selfie;
  • Inoue Sohonpo’s Ice Cream Monaka, for delicious Japanese sweets. Try the “ice monaka”, wafer biscuits with ice cream (vanilla, matcha or ogura) and bean paste;
  • Tobiccho’s Shirasu Black Croquette filled with boiled whitebait;
  • Kaisaku’s grilled fresh food, whose smell will make your mouth water from far away. Definitely try the squid roasted with soy sauce.

Samuel Cocking Garden

Engakuji Temple Kamakura Japan Guide
Engakuji Temple

Originally built as a private villa for the British merchant Samuel Cocking, it boasts a beautiful botanical garden to admire in every season.

Don’t miss: Loncafe for delicious French Toast with view! I had the seasonal Purple Sweet Potato and I regret ordering only one french toast and not two!

  • Entrance Fee: 200¥
  • Operating Hours: 9:00-20:00

Sea Candle Tower

Sea Candle Tower
Sea Candle Tower

Landmark of Enoshima, it gives you a great view over the mountains in Hakone, Izu Peninsula, Sagami Bay and Mt. Fuji if it is a nice, clear day.

  • Entrance Fee: 500¥
  • Opening Hours: 9:00-20:00

Chigogafuchi Abyss

Chigogafuchi Abyss Enoshima Beach
Chigogafuchi Abyss

After visiting the last shrine, Okutsunomiya, and on the way to the caves, the southern coast made of jagged, steep cliffs will definitely be the highlight of your trip if you go there at sunset time. Like in a natural infinity pool, the sky and the sea will become one while the red of sunsets will start stretching into the sky and onto the water.

The story behind the name of the area is rather tragic: it means “abyss of servant child in the temple” and refers two two servant children committing suicide there during the Edo era.

Iwaya Caves

Iwaya Caves
Iwaya Caves

There are two caves: the first one leads to a fork and it is said that the path on the left is connected to Mt. Fuji. The second one houses a dragon statue at its deepest recess.

  • Entrance fee: 500¥
  • Operating Hours: 9:00-16:00 in winter, 9:00-17:00 from March to mid-October.

Enoshima Aquarium

Engakuji Temple Kamakura Japan Guide
Engakuji Temple

Locally known as “Enosui”, it is located not on the island but on the mainland around Enoshima. Popular attractions are the penguins and the dolphins shows.

  • Entrance fee: 2500¥
  • Operating Hours: 9:00-18:00 in summer, 9:00-17:00 during the rest of the year.

What and where to eat in Enoshima

Whitebait (Shirasu)

Engakuji Temple Kamakura Japan Guide
Engakuji Temple

Being an island, Enoshima is famous for its fresh fish. Literally anywhere you go, you will be served delicious sushi. Don’t miss out on the whitebait (shirasu), considered typical product of Shonan, especially Enoshima. You can have “shirasu don” (rice topped with whitebait), “shirasu sando” (sandwich with whitebait), shirasu ice-cream (I’m not sure I can recommend this one…).

Enoshima Pudding

Engakuji Temple Kamakura Japan Guide
Engakuji Temple

If you have a sweet tooth, you cannot miss it. Sold in a store called “Enoshima Pudding” on the way from Enoshima Station to Enoshima, a little pudding jar costs 390¥.

As the store closes relatively early (17:00) I recommend getting one as soon as you get to Enoshima.

Enoshima Craft Beer

enoshima craft beer
Enoshima Craft Beer

Produced by a multiple award-winning microbrewery.

Tastes better on the beach!

“Garbs” Italian cuisine

Enoshima Italian food restaurant
Pumpkin Ravioli

Enoshima boasts several good Italian restaurants.

Located in front of “Il Chianti”, it is next to the station rather than the beach. However, being on the second and third floor it nevertheless offers a nice view of Enoshima. Last but not least, pizza tastes great. I also tried the pumpkin ravioli and they were sublime. In winter they have “kotatsu seats”, wooden table covered by a heavy blanket and with a heat source underneath to keep you warm.

“Vento Mare Vita” Italian cuisine

pizza in enoshima
Vento Mare Vita

“Vento Mare Vita”, definitely a hidden gem. It is located on the side of the yacht harbour, which offers a less special view compared to the high seas and Mt Fuji view on the other side. However, its location is the key, as it is hidden away from the noise of the island. Finally, the quality of the pizza is superb, one of the best I have ever tried in Japan.

Pancakes

pancake at Egg n’ Things
Pancake at Egg n’ Things

Probably because of its Hawaiian atmosphere, Enoshima is famous for pancakes. People would queue long hours to get into “Egg n’ Things” (on the mainland just below “Garbs”, on the first floor).

However, I recommend trying pancakes on the island. People automatically go straight through Benzaiten Nakamise-dori Street and up the hill but, if instead you make a turn to the left, you will head to the yacht harbour, a less popular area (which means less people, less queue, more peace, more fun!). I enjoyed my macadamia nut pancakes at “Moke’s Hawaii”, a lovely cafe with relaxing hammock chairs.

Vegetarian Food

Vegetarian Food
Vegetarian Food at Diego by the River

Definitely visit “Diego by the River”, a cafe located off the island, along Katase river, with terrace seats. Popular among locals but not so well-known by tourists, their menu offers vegetarian options for each dish.


Beaches in Enoshima

Enoshima Beach

Engakuji Temple Kamakura Japan Guide
Engakuji Temple

Divided in Nishihama (West beach) and Higashihama (East Beach), popular destination for a beach-day as it is the closest coast to a train station. Especially in summer, you will observe two kinds of people: those indulging in the pleasures of alcohol and BBQ meat, or those engaging in activities such as yoga and surfing, among the most popular.

Kugenuma

Kugenuma beach in Enoshima for surf
Kugenuma Beach

A paradise for surfers as it always offers some waves to ride even when the sea is totally flat in other areas. The area is popular also among those who are not interested in surfing, as it has a skateboard park, a large wood deck where people lie down to tan or read, soft grass perfect for pic-nics (be aware of hawks and crows!) and wide stone steps where to sit for chatting with your friends or enjoying the beach/Mt. Fuji view.

Tsujido

Tsujido Park near Enoshima Beach
Tsujido

Next to Kugenuma is Tsujido, better known for the big shopping mall next to the station, “Terrace Mall ”. However, close to the beach is “Tsujido Seaside Park2, a lovely park with Mt. Fuji view and where events are held: the flea market is my favorite!

Coming to the end of this article, I am sure your day in Enoshima will be intense, your feet will ache, your skin will have tanned and, exhausted, you will fall asleep on the train ride back home. But I am also sure that you will rest with a smile on your face and a full belly, dreaming of your next trip to Enoshima. Enjoy your trip!

If you are going to use this article as a guide to your visit to Enoshima and don’t want to have a hard time searching for this article on SamuraiTrip again, don’t forget to share it on your social media or send it to your mailbox.

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