While my first few months in Japan have been focused largely on getting acclimated and becoming a person again, I’ve recently decided that it’s time to get back to exploring. Since I’ve been so busy getting established, everything outside of my “hometown” is pretty much new to me. So like a toddler learning to take their first steps, I stumbled forth from the safety net of my apartment this past weekend to see what this new life had in store for me. This time, it brought me to the tiny island of Enoshima.
Located just over an hour south of Tokyo, Enoshima is a popular travel spot for tourists and locals alike. This holds especially true during the summer, as it is the closest sandy beach one can find around the city. The island receives plenty of visitors year round however, thanks largely in part to its reputation for fresh seafood.
What to See
Aside from sun tanning and fine dining, visitors to Enoshima can enjoy several Buddhist temples, stunning ocean views, a nearby aquarium, and even a trip to the onsen at the local spa if your budget allows for it.
Enoshima is somewhat mountainous, and the best views are of course found at the top. If you’re feeling up for the challenge, you can climb the stairs to the top free of charge. It’s actually not all that bad, as the climb is broken out into several levels, each with different attractions to stop and see.
However, if you’re planning to do any of the other attractions, such as the Sea Candle (Which I highly recommend. More on that in a moment.), you can bundle your ticket with an escalator pass and save a bit of money. The combined ticket for all of the attractions plus the escalator costs ¥1,000, which is a little under $9 at the time of writing this.
As I mentioned a moment ago, if you want the best views around, you need to get to the highest point on the island. On Enoshima, there is no point higher than the the 60 meter tall Sea Candle; a lighthouse observatory stationed at the island’s peak.
The 360-degree viewing area offers stunning panoramas of Japan, including sites such as Mount Fuji (assuming the weather is clear that day). I recommend you time it out carefully to try to be here for sunset. The view is just incredible. Be sure to bring your camera.
From up here, you’ll also have a birds-eye view of the massive hawks that circle the island in search of food. And yes, I do hate myself for that pun. Honestly though, keep an eye out for these things. I watched one of these giant birds snatch an ice cream cone out of an unsuspecting man’s hand as he was admiring the sunset. It’s one thing when a seagull pulls these shenanigans, but a hawk is not a bird I would want to argue with. If you find yourself in this situation, just give it the cone.
That being said, hawks are not the most famous animal on this island. No, that honor belongs to the felines. Enoshima has earned the reputation of being one of Japan’s “Cat Islands”. Yes, I said “one of”.
You can’t go far on Enoshima without running into one of these four-legged celebrities. Though they are usually seen in passing as they dart from one alleyway to another, some are a bit more photogenic and don’t mind posing for the camera.
When visiting Enoshima, make sure to leave yourself plenty of time. While the island isn’t massive by any means, there is plenty to see, and ocean views are best enjoyed while sitting and relaxing. Get there early, take your time, and enjoy the experience.
One of Enoshima’s major attractions are it’s sea caves, named Iwaya Caves. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see this on my visit, as they were badly damaged by a recent typhoon. According to the signs posted there, they are expecting them to be closed for repairs for quite a while. If you’re planning to visit soon and the caves are a make-or-break factor for you, make sure to check online to see whether or not it is open to visitors again.