"Enoshima" - by Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon, Images Through Glass, Tokyo
As with just about anywhere in the greater Tokyo area, there are several ways of getting there, but the most popular way from Central Tokyo is to take the Odakyu Line from Shinjuku (picture #1 below) to Fujisawa (#2), and change trains (not necessary if you take an Enoshima-bound train from Shinjuku) for the final short run to Enoshima Station (#3).
The beach is only a three or four minute walk away. You can go to either the coast on the right or the left of the twin Enoshima Island bridges - first crossing either over or under the main road. Along the beach, there are "beach houses", with showers, lockers, and food (all for a price), and then a convenient, but slightly crowded beach awaits (below, right).
At the beach, the water isn't the crystal clear blue of a typical Mediterranean resort, but it's the ocean nonetheless, and it feels good to be in the ocean, away from mega-city concrete. Photo note: The view of the sunset (below) was taken later, over on the island.
Walking across the pedestrian bridge; exploring a bit of low-tide exposed rock on the island; walking on the island's lower main street; and looking back at the bridge from the island (below).
Color. I've often tried to imagine the missing color in old black & white photos, but even with the two photos above having been taken by me on the same day and on the same street, when looking just at the black and white photo, it's hard to imagine the color. On the other hand, color like in the first and third photos below probably wasn't something often seen before modern dyes....
(Left above & right below) - There's an old inn (in a new building) with a swimming pool just a little above a beach. I have never stayed there, but on this last photo trip, that pool looked nice... I imagined going down to the beach, into the ocean, up to the pool, into the pool, into the room for a rest, back to the pool, back to the room, dinner (in the room) back to the pool, etc. The last time I went to the beach, I (for economic reasons) just stayed sticky until I got home and took a shower.... so the idea of tossing money around and having more fun is appealing!
(Left above) - Looking over a torii gate back towards the mainland. (Middle) - One of the old shops up at the top of the island.
Three aspects to the island: 1) A side street in the residential area not far from the bridge. 2) Near the top - looking back towards Fujisawa. 3) On the opposite side of the island, looking out over the Pacific Ocean.
The boards with messages written on them... as I mentioned in "Meiji Shrine" ("Meiji Shrine"), people write messages on boards and leave them at shrines on large boards (left above). For Enoshima Shrine, the pink boards are written by both single people looking for someone and by couples who wish to stay together.
In the case of the padlocks (below), the idea seems to be specifically for couples who want to stay together. They typically write their first names and some variation of "Together Always" on the lock, and then lock the padlock to a fence near that bell in the middle picture. Since the fence has become so packed with locks, people have begun locking them to other fences in the area (left). While I was photographing the locks, a few local tourists walked by and I could hear a couple of them talking about the locks: Person-A) "But what happens if a couple breaks up?" Person-B) "The locks just stay there I bet." I was tempted to say "No-no! Each person gets a key, so if either one wants to break up, they just come back, unlock the lock and toss it in the ocean!" (Just my idea of a joke there, so don't take that seriously please!) In the right photo, the new lock with the red heart and dated "05-8-10" was put there on the day I took the photo (August 10th, 2005).
One more comment about that bell (above) - I'm not entirely sure, but there seems to be some deal where couples take turns standing up there, looking out to sea, looking into each other's eyes, vowing eternal love and ringing that bell. Not sure about that, but that's how it seemed.
Hopefully not related, in the same area, I spotted this spider and its web (below). This type of spider will often construct huge webs right across footpaths in the mountains, so if you find yourself walking down a path no one has been on for a while, it pays to pick up a dead branch or stick and wave it in front of your face as you walk - otherwise, you're apt to end up with a face-full of spider web! (No problem on Enoshima Island though, there is always a steady stream of visitors there.)
Walking along the top of the island, with its shops, restaurants, inns, and a long flight of stairs leading down to the Pacific Ocean. There used to be a definite feeling of accomplishment while walking along the top of the island, due to there being no way of getting there other than climbing up the many stone steps, but they put in some pay-to-ride escalators(!), and even though I continue to walk up the stone steps to the side of the hillside escalators, their very existence has damaged that old feeling... standing on top, you realize in the back of your mind that you could have ridden them after all, if you had wanted to and had paid. It's probably a great thing for the older people who live up there, but still....
At least there is no escalator down to the back side of the island. If you get to this point, then you've done some walking! Enoshima is definitely one of Tokyo's (Kanagawa's actually) spots for couple's - as is evident in the left photo. Following this path around, there is a (pay-to-enter) cave a two-minute walk from the vantage point of the photo.
Sometimes I wonder... one minute you're admiring a beautiful view, and the next you're standing on rocks and contemplating dangerous waves rushing up at you.... It would seem that it's not always good to go down to the edge for a closer look.
Ah... here we go! Why visiting Enoshima can be a great experience! Old wooden shrines among the summer green... Sunsets in dramatic skies over the Pacific... ships out at sea....
Views from the top of the island - from a cafe near the ruins of an old botanical garden (left) and from the top of the new (rebuilt) tower within the (pay-to-enter) garden area. The middle picture? One of the island's escalators. They have someone stand at the bottom to collect tickets or money, but no one on top, so I walked over and had a look. Just as this picture might suggest, most people take the stone stairs and ignore the moving steel steps.
A couple on top of the tower looking at the lights along the Shonan coastline. (Right) After spending several hours walking around the island, I headed for home when the tower area closed at 8:00 and found myself walking along the lower main street of the island wondering why it felt like it was 2:00 a.m....
I've been saying this for two decades now, but I still think that Japan would be doing itself a big favor to move the clocks ahead by two or even three hours.... Well, anyway - that's it for this page. If you have any comments, send me an e-mail (see "Contact" on the front page). Sore dewa!
Copyright 2005 by Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon, Images Through Glass, Tokyo