Japan is an island, but unfortunately it doesn’t necessarily mean you can go to the beach everywhere…
(I did make a pretty good list of the prettiest beaches in Kanto, for all you guys who are serious about your beaches…)
Enoshima is a great place because besides just the beach, it has a lot for you to see and do.
The Legend of Enoshima
Apparently back in the old days, the people of the area around Enoshima were plagued by a terrible 5-headed dragon. This dragon was a bit of an a#” and brought nothing but bad crops, and bad fishing. The villagers struggled to appease him, so that everything could return to normal. A giant earthquake happened one day and then an island appeared. Along with an island came the lute-wielding water goddess, Benzaiten. She was beautiful, and apparently exactly the type of girl that dragons go for, because the 5-headed dragon was immediately smitten. He begged for her to love him, but she told him she couldn’t love something so evil, but if he reformed and lived by the teachings of Buddha, she might love him.
The dragon reformed, and gained her love. He then contentedly curled up on her island and turned into the large hill on Enoshima. He (reportedly) has been inactive ever since. However, if you go to Enoshima you will see both Benzaiten and the dragon everywhere.
If you are a Zelda fan, you might be wondering why you see the triforce everywhere. Unfortunately, it is not the triforce, it is a symbol portraying 3 dragon scales. This symbol is the crest of the Hojo clan. They ruined the area around Enoshima and that is why their symbol is plastered all over the place. They don’t want you to forget that they historically had control over this entire area.
HOW TO GET TO ENOSHIMA
There are 2 ways to get to Enoshima from Tokyo. One is to go on the JR Line the most of the way (if you have a JR pass you will want to do this) and the other is to go on the Odakyu Line (if you don’t have a JR pass, you want to take this one).
JR ROUTE: From Shinagawa take the Tokkaido Line train bound for Atami and get off at Fujisawa. At Fujisawa change to an Odakyu train for Katase Enoshima.
FARE: If you have the JR Rail Pass your ride up until Fujisawa will be free. From Fujisawa is 220 yen.
TIME: 1 HR
ODAKYU LINE: From Shinjuku 新宿, take an express train to Fujisawa 藤沢. Change at Fujisawa 藤沢 to a train going to Katase Enoshima 片瀬江ノ島. Get off at Katase Enoshima 片瀬江ノ島.
FARE: 630 yen
TIME: 1 HR
THINGS TO SEE/DO
Okay, so it isn’t a white sand beach…In fact it is black sand. I am assuming this is just a natural thing because Japan is a volcanic island. However! Besides that it is pretty much like any huge sandy beach. You can come here and rent out a set that comes with lockers, a beach chair, the right to a rinse off, etc. at the beach houses here. Come and play in the sand, chill, or enjoy a bit of swimming. The waves are not that big, so this might not be the place for surfing.
The main thing to see on the island is the shrine. It is pretty unavoidable because it is spread over different parts of the island so, there are many segments of it to bump into.
The promenade to the main entrance of the shrine area is lined with restaurants and souvenir shops. It gets pretty crowded, but might be a fun place to browse around.
The main gate to Enoshima Shrine. Spoiler alert: there are a lot of uphill stairs. There is an escalator that you can pay to ride on at several points.
You can get your fortune told here, write ema for your happy marriage, and buy some mamori (charms) to keep you lucky and disaster-free.
The shrine dedicated to the 5-headed dragon was actually in a cave in the beginning. I am guessing that the move out of the cave was for convenience. Nowadays you have to pay 400 yen to even enter the cave.
I think the cave is worth it because it gives you a glimpse of the history of the island and the culture of the surrounding area. The cave itself is interesting; there is even a part of it where you navigating through it with candles.
SHIRASU, SHIRASU, SHIRASU
Have you noticed these little white fish all over Enoshima? These are the delicacy of the area…They are little dried sardines. If you come to Enoshima you can gorge yourself on the little fishes. In fact, there is even an all-you-can-eat shirasu restaurant.
All in all it is a really good, relatively cheap day trip from Tokyo. If you are coming out here you can also stay one night in the area and go to Kamakura, another place known for its temples and Buddha statue, the next day.