Enoshima is a small offshore beach island location off the Shōnan coast of Japan’s Kanagawa Prefecture. It is known for its sandy beaches, Shrines and ocean side caves (Iwaya Caves), with breath-taking views. Let’s check it out today with an on-ground day exploration.
Physically, Enoshima island spans about 4 km in circumference, making it smaller than Singapore’s Sentosa island. It sits the mouth of the Katase River. The river flows into the Sagami Bay of Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. There are also vantage points offering great views of from the island, as well as a small colony of free-roaming domestic cats.
Also, the island is home to the Enoshima Shrine. Here, you can find statues honoring Benzaiten (Benten), the Buddhist goddess. Additionally, the island is also home to the Enospa hot springs, with feature tidal pools and Buddhist statues.
Enoshima is a self-contained island
Located near Kamakura, on getting there, Enoshima is served by three nearby railway stations. These stations includes Katase-Enoshima Terminus on the Odakyū Enoshima Line, Enoshima Station on the Enoshima Electric Railway (Enoden), and lastly, the Shōnan-Enoshima Station on the Shonan Monorail.
Moreover, Enoshima is part of the mainland city of Fujisawa. Also, from the mainland, the island is linked to the Katase section by a 600m road and pedestrian bridge. It is a nice walkable route passing by several small hotels, residences and long sandy beaches.
Sandy beaches in Tokyo region
Additionally, here on the main link bridge, you can find sandy beaches closest to Tokyo and Yokohama. These are the closest sandy beaches to Tokyo are located on the mainland just off Enoshima.
Also, the mainland beaches overlooks the island and is open all year long to walk on. Though the place is of course devoid of any beach goers on the cold winter months.
Also, the island and adjacent coastline are the hub of a local resort area. In summer, during the Japanese summer holidays in July and August, this place transforms into a beach resort area popular with people from the immediate Tokyo and Yokohama prefectures. Notably, on those peak months, the beaches on either side of the island can become very crowded with sun bathers and swimmers.
In addition, the long stretches of beaches here continues to stretch to the Chigasaki region in the west and Kamakura in the east. Kamakura is also a popular surfing spot known for strong ocean waves.
From here, exiting the bridge brings you to the main town area of the island, where you can find find food stores and provisions. Also, a must-try item here are the giant squid/prawn crackers served in giant paper wraps.
Check out historical Sinto Shrines
Furthermore, a major sight here on Enoshima island is the Enoshima Shrine is a Shinto shrine. Enoshima Shrine is a pretty sizable one. It consists of three separate shrines sitting in different places around the island.
Notably, the main complex includes an octagonal building that houses one of Japan’s three most venerated statues of Benten. Benten, the patron goddess of Enoshima is also known as the goddess of wealth. It is synonymous with the Chinese “God of fortune”. Hence visitors notably try to wash their money at the shrine’s pond for luck wealth.
Not a procedure I would recommend though. Additionally, admission to the Shrines are free. this includes common areas like outer the main courtyard and prayer areas. They are open daily all days of the year from 8:30am to 4:30pm. It however, costs 200 yen to see the Benten statue.
Moreover, through your walks you can see the Enoshima Sea Candle. It is a 19th-century lighthhouse with a modern design, offering views of the Sagami Bay from the top. On the east of the island sites a Yacht harbour and coast guard installation.
Enoshima has a small cat population
Additionally, a little known thing about Enoshima “cat island” is its small population of free-roaming cats. You can chance upon in the inner regions of the island. Notably, these cats are usually collared. Meaning, they are not strays but owned and cared by residents on the island itself.
Also, all these cats are domesticated and are comfortable with the company of people. You can find them sitting or lazying around common areas, shrines and benches. Sometimes they will even come and approach you for attention.
Explore Iwaya Caves underground tunnels
Iwaya Caves is a touristy attraction comprising of caves and an ocean side cliff-side walk offering a historical walkthrough and great sea views. Located on the western island side, the caves are highly walkable. However, the attraction is not wheel chair accessible due to the presence of steps.
Moreover, admission to the caves costs 500 yen per person. It is tad more pricey than the 200 yen Shrine entrance given it’s touristy nature. On entry, you be given as handheld lit “candle” to light your way through the dimly lit caves.
Additionally, as a novelty. The first cave contains some Buddhist statues. Here you can find a number of stone tablets, as well as those depicting the story of a mystical cave dragon.
Moving on, the second cave is dedicated to the legendary dragon that used to terrorize the area. The caves are open daily from 9am to 6pm, with earlier closing at 4pm on the winter mid/late October to February months. The attraction will also close temporary if the oceanside weather is inclement.
A scenic ocean view with Mt Fuji
Moreover, the cave attraction follows tad a linear route. Towards the end of the caves you will pass through a series of ocean side broad walk pathway running through in the interiors of a sea-side cliff face.
These seaside paths offer great breath-taking views of the nearby ocean bay off along Enoshima’s southern coast. Interesting, you can see various rock fall guard and fences placed along here to protect visitors.
In addition to Amazing seaside views, on a clear day, you can see Mount Fuji in the distance, flanked by the vast water body in front of you. At points of the scenic way, you find steps leading to the seafloor.
Additionally, on low tides, if you are adventurous, you can hop on the ocean rocks below. The spot is also popular with local recreational fishermen, where you can see them fishing out into the ocean water in pure serene privacy.
All in all, Enoshima’s Pleasantly touristy small island is of a chill nature away from the buzz of Tokyo and Nagoya city.
It is best visited in the summer months if you are into warm sunny beaches. Though winter months are also recommended with much lower crowds in the Shrine and attraction areas. Great for a day out of the Japanese concrete Jungle.