Start by reading Enoshima: an island rich in history (Part 1)
Walking through the streets of Enoshima
Once you take the main road, called Benzaiten Nakamise Street, easily recognizable by the numerous souvenir shops and restaurants, after a few meters you will find yourself in front of a huge bright red Torii, which marks the beginning of the area dedicated to sanctuaries.
Just behind this impressive gate, once you pass a majestic wooden tower and white chalk called Zuishinmon, you will finally meet a first representation of the deity Benzaiten, together with the dragon, and if you know the story, you will feel like you are in the right place!
Continuing the staircase, once purified your hands and mouth at the traditional fountain that you will find at its entrance, you can visit the first shrine, the most important, called Hetsunomiya [辺 津 宮].
This shrine is closely linked to two other majestic pavilions on the island, each of which is dedicated to a different sea god. You can easily recognize them along the way thanks to the around the road signs (they are not near each other but scattered in different points of Enoshima).
Dream of Love
And if you thought the mystical atmosphere of the temples ended here, know the island is still full of surprises.
So far we have always mentioned the figure of the goddess Benzaiten, symbol of the island but not only.
In Japan there are a total of three temples dedicated to her. Miyajima in Hiroshima, Chikubushima in Shiga and obviously also in Enoshima.
This temple in particular is characterized by an octagonal shape. During the Kamakura period, 1192-1333 was a place of prayer for warriors who asked the deity to protect them in battle, but wiith the Edo period the figure of Benzaiten changed, becoming a symbol of art, music and love.
Non a caso, a pochi passi dal suo tempio, potrete trovare tabelloni ricoperti da piccole placche in legno colorate di rosa.Si tratta di Ema [絵馬], tavolette su cui i credenti scintoisti e buddisti (ma non solo) scrivono i loro desideri nella speranza che possano diventare realtà.
Il colore rosa e la presenza di cuori fanno ben capire l’intento degli Ema di Enoshima: trovare l’amore o far crescere quello che già c’e’.
An island where time has stopped
What do we think of Enoshima? That is a wonderful island.
In addition to the temples you will have the opportunity to walk in the middle of nature, go up and down ancient stairways accompanied by beautiful landscapes and a few friends along the way.
(I’m referring to a pretty cat, who wandered sleepwalking among the tourists, a nice turtle standing as a statue near a pond, squirrels leaping among the trees and rows of little crabs crossing the road).
Once you reach the opposite end of the island, you can visit the natural park realized by Samuel Cocking, a wealthy English merchant who, having fallen in love with this place, made it even more special through tropical plants and flowers from all over the world.
(Cost of visiting the park = 500 yen per person).
Last stop: Iwaya cave
Generated by erosion created over time by sea waves, this underground area is divided into two large areas. The first is 152 m long while the second 56 m. Inside you can observe statues and artistic works, accompanied by music and lights, all in a suggestive atmosphere.
Unfortunately, due to a typhoon that a few days ago must have made some areas of the cave inaccessible, we couldn’t visit it.
But because we can not miss an experience like this, we will soon be returning to Enoshima, during sunset time.
Yes, because if you visit the island in the late afternoon, in addition to being able to walk in the light of the temple lanterns, you will have the chance to see a breathtaking view of Mount Fuji.
Enoshima was a discovery. An improvised stop that left us speechless.
Japan is full of temples and shrines. Before coming to Japan, someone told me “when you saw one, is like you had seen them all. They all look the same”. Well, is not true.
With a bit of curiosity, you can indeed discover stories and legends that make each place unique.
How to get to Enoshima from Odawara (Cycling route)
- Follow the road that runs along the sea with direction Yokohama;
- Between the station of Ninomiya and Ooiso you will find the sign of the “Pacific Coast Bicycle Route” cycle path.
- Once you have finished the track, continue along road 134 until you reach Chigasaki.
- From Chigasaki to Enoshima you can take the “Shonai Kaigan Bycicle Road” which runs along the entire beach to the entrance of Enoshima. It is a cycle and pedestrian area so proceed with caution.
- During the journey you will not find many conbini. We advise you to do your food shopping before you leave.
- The Shonai Kaigan cycle path is very crowded during the summer months. If you go by bike in this period we therefore advise you to avoid it. You can continue on road 134 (the main road) up to Enoshima. Be careful of car traffic. (The street is quite wide and includes sections with spacious sidewalks).
- Always regarding the Shonai Kaigan cycle path, in case of bad weather crossing it will not be easy. A few days before we went there, a typhoon had made the road impassable by covering it partly with the sand of the beach. If you have a road bike and a few days before there was a storm, we advise you to continue on the road 134.
Have a safe trip!