Last week Raku and I spent a day exploring Enoshima, a tiny island to the south of Tokyo. We went to a spa on the island in December which I briefly mentioned in this post. But this time we went to actually explore the island.
Reaching Enoshima is an adventure in itself, including a ride on the Enoden line which runs little old train cars. Not all of them are quite this old, but we rode in one that had wooden floors!
Once arriving at Enoshima station we then had to walk through the neighborhood (stopping to buy snacks along the way) until reaching the bridge to walk across to the island itself. I believe there might be buses you can take to the island, but each time I've really enjoyed the walk past cute stores, stopping to buy mochi or cinnamon rolls from roadside stands, and the great view from the bridge.
Enoshima is known for the myth of a dragon that used to terrorize the island's residents. But then a beautiful goddess emerged from a cave. The dragon fell in love with the goddess and proposed marriage, but she would only accept his offer if he would stop harming the people of Enoshima - and so they were saved.
The island itself is great to explore, and is laid out in a simple path that leads from one point of interest to the next. The first stop was a shrine with a carving of the dragon.
Climbing up past the shrine is the Samuel Cocking Botanical Garden. It had beds of tulips, trees from many countries, as well as a number of tropical plants blooming while we were there.
Inside the garden is the Sky Candle, a lookout tower with a view of the island. On clear days you're supposed to be able to see Mt. Fuji. Unfortunately for us, the sky didn't clear until later in the day.
Past the Sky Candle is a second shrine. This one features a dragon guarding a cave.
Just past this temple is a short walk to a gate where couples can place a lock with a message and then ring a bell together. There are several shops along the way selling locks with heart attached, or you can bring your own.
Finally there is a path down to the caves where the dragon and the goddess are supposed to have lived. When the tide is out you can also explore the rocks below the caves and even see local fishermen.
The tour of the caves is also very nice. The first cave has a number of ancient statues, and as you enter you're given a tiny candle to light the way. The second cave is small, but it has a recreated dragon's lair. Be warned, the climb back up from the caves feels like a million stairs!
At the end of the day we found a small coffee shop where we relaxed after a long day of walking around in the cold. I've had a great time on both visits. (Though I will note that if you go for the Enospa it seems to be better to go in warmer weather. While our experience was nice, I was disappointed that the outdoor pools and baths were closed in December). As we walked back across the bridge toward the train we saw that the sky had cleared and we were able to see Mt. Fuji as the sun was setting.