Only 90 minutes away from Tokyo Shinjuku, and in the neighborhood of Kamakura’s great Buddha, Enoshima is a tiny gem lying on the Pacific turbulent waters. Home of many legends and of a healthy and device-free day spa – one of Japan’s best, the island filled with nature is perfect for a relaxing day trip far from the big city.
A few days ago, we had the chance to spend some time on Enoshima, enjoying the local Spa and visiting the island. The sight dos not belong to the hundred landscapes of Heisei (but allowed us to visit a new one on our way – Kamakura’s big Buddha). And the truth is we truly enjoyed the tiny island, very easy to reach from Tokyo and feeling so exotic. In a way, it reminds us of Miyajima in Hiroshima Prefecture.
Enoshima island is a few stop from Kamakura on Kanagawa’s cutest railway, the Enoshima Dentetsu or “Enoden”. Some cars of the line even have a wooden floor. The place is home of many legends and not only surfer’s one, as the whole area is a well known spot.
According to locals, in ancient times, Enoshima was simply not here yet. The seashore was then a harsh place to inhabit, as a five-heads dragon was bothering the not-so-many villages with floodings and typhoons and all that kind of things.
Until the day Benten arrived – after a day-long earthaque that brought a brand new island close to the littoral. The dragon soon had a crush on the Buddhist goddess of Love, mostly known in Japan as Benzaiten, and living on brand new Enoshima. He soon proposed to her. Benten was willing to accept, only if the dragon would stop bothering the villages around.
As a result, Enoshima’s more ancient shrine deep in a cave of the southern shore is dedicated to Benzaiten – since 552. The visit (500 yens) is definitely worth it as such caves are not a common sight in Japan and the place has a strong spiritual feeling. Ancient Japanese believed that the deepest galleries were linked to Mount Fuji’s own cave, a hundred kilometers away over the Pacific Ocean.
After the first shrine 1500 years ago, many others were founded on Enoshima, dedicated to both Buddhist and Shinto deities, as it is often the case in Japan. And in Koshigoe, on the way to Kamakura from the island, another shrine is dedicated to the five-heads dragon – just in case!
Every sunny day, a lot of people are crossing the bridge that links Enoshima to mainland Japan. It is a popular touristic spot from Tokyo, not yet very popular among foreign travelers. Many young couples are coming as the walk around is pretty romantic and Benten is a Buddhist deity of love.
Device-free and peaceful time in Enospa
Enoshima Island Spa is conveniently located just after the bridge crossing to Enoshima. For a long time, it was a member-only spa. But nowadays everyone (except if you are tattooed!) might enjoy the unique Fujisan-overlooking outdoor pool and others indoor hot springs of the luxurious establishment, with English-speaking staff available. The spring water is pumped 1200m deep under the Pacific Ocean.
“For Japanese, Enoshima island has always been an ancient power spot, Ruth Jarman from Enoshima spa explains. And in a way, the Island spa is part of that. Electronic devices are not allowed inside, which creates a truly healthy and peaceful atmosphere.” In the holistic spa, no need either to keep money while enjoying the treatments or restaurants: all the shopping is done with the locker key and paid at the exit time.
Going to Enoshima Island Spa, from Tokyo, is a convenient way to try onsen and enjoy a relaxing time (3120 yens for one day, or 1932 yens after 6pm). And the island by itself is a must-go for anyone interested in Japanese legends.
How to get there?
From Tokyo Shinjuku, the trip to Enoshima takes 90 minutes, via the Shonan-Shinjuku line (JR pass working) and the Odakyu line, with a rapid change in Fujisawa. Another option is to reach Kamakura first, and then ride to Enoshima with the cute “Enoden” (in any case, about 1150 yens from Shinjuku to Enoshima). After the train, about 15 minutes walking are necessary to reach and cross the bridge.