Refresh yourself by escaping the humidity of Tokyo and heading to the beaches, shrines, and mysterious caves of Enoshima.

Enoshima, a small island just slightly west of Kamakura, boasts some of the closest beaches to Tokyo (approx. 1 hr from Shinjuku Station). But that’s not the only enticing factor; Enoshima’s got a little bit of everything — parks, shrines, aquariums, local restaurants, and even caves — making it the perfect all-in-one vacation spot.

How to get to Enoshima

Odakyu lines (or Romancecar) to Katase-Enoshima Station
¥650¥1,400

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Thanks to a linking bridge, Enoshima Island can easily be accessed by train. Our Cheapo recommendation is to take the Odakyu Line from Shinjuku Station to Fujisawa Station, then transfer to the Odakyu Enoshima Line and get off at Katase-Enoshima Station (one-way ¥650). This is the closest station to the main beach and should not be confused with Enoshima Station on the Enoden Line.

Alternatively, you can take the Odakyu Romancecar from Shinjuku Station. It will bring you directly to Katase-Enoshima Station without any transfers, but seeing as it’s ¥1,400 one-way, we can’t recommend it in good Cheapo taste.

You can also get to Enoshima via the local Enoden Line that runs between Kamakura and Enoshima, in which case you can make use of the Enoshima-Kamakura Freepass. Or if coming from Ōfuna, you can get the Shonan Monorail, which takes only 14 minutes and is quite a rollercoaster experience.

The Enoshima-Kamakura Freepass

1-day pass
Odakyu Line from Shinjuku (or Fujisawa) to Katase-Enoshima and the local Enoden Line
¥810 from Fujisawa; ¥1,640 from Shinjuku

If you’re also heading to Kamakura, consider the Enoshima-Kamakura Free Pass, which includes unlimited use of Enoden trains between Fujisawa and Kamakura, as well as the Odakyu trains between Fujisawa and Enoshima for one day (you can pay extra for one return trip from Shinjuku). You can choose a digital or physical pass. Not only that, getting the free pass gets you discounts at different establishments, including Enoshima Sea Candle and the caves.

Tours from Tokyo to Enoshima

This popular spot at Kamakurakōkō-Mae Station is well known because of the anime Slam Dunk. | Photo by Getty Images

You can combine Enoshima and Kamakura in one day with this tour for around ¥8,000, which includes transport from Tokyo and a few iconic anime spots.

If you’d like an air-conditioned bus and a guaranteed English-speaking guide then there’s also this tour from Viator for ¥9,000.

How to get around Enoshima

The main attractions in Enoshima tend to be contained to the beaches and island, so you’d think the transport options would be minimal, well you’d be wrong. Enoshima is elevated, so many of the attractions are at the top of a long line of stairs or around the back of the island. It can take you an hour or more to do the whole thing. However, if you’d like the save your pinky toes the trouble, then there are a few quick options.

Escalators (Escar)

Photo by Alex Ziminski

Escalators on an island may seem over-indulgent, but to see the shrines and observatory points, you’ll need to head up quite a few stairs. Be warned that these escalators only go one way: up. So this isn’t an alternative for those with mobility troubles. You also have to pay ¥360 for the convenience. Remember to buy tickets at the first Escar station or Sea Candle as you won’t be able to buy them at Escar stations 2 and 3.

Ferryboats

Photo by Alex Ziminski

Enoshima’s best-kept secret may be the three-minute boat service that takes you from Enoshima Benten Bridge to the caves around the back of the island. If you didn’t want to walk or take the escalator to the top, then this is another alternative. You could either do a return journey — visit the caves, go back, and explore the main shopping street — or go one way (¥400) and walk your way back over the island to see the shrines, garden, tower, and restaurants.

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Note: The ferryboats only run on weekends during winter.

Things to do in Enoshima

Enoshima is a great place to learn about snippets of Japanese history, culture, and mythology. So, whether you are here for the beach or not, there are still plenty of things to do near or on the island.

Things to do on the island

Enoshima Benten Shrine

People at Enoshima Shrine in Enoshima, Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. The shrine is dedicated to the worship of the Benten.
Enoshima Shrine | Photo by iStock.com/winhorse

There are several shrines around the island dedicated to Benten, the island’s patron goddess of good fortune, wealth, music, and knowledge. Admission to the main shrine is free, but it might be worth the ¥200 to see the Benten statue — as she is the goddess of wealth, it is said that if you wash your money there and spend it, then the money will come back to you two-fold.

Dragon’s Love Bell

Photo by Aimee Gardner

For a more romantic element, head off with your partner to Ryuren no Kane, or the Dragon’s Love Bell. Not only is there a beautiful view of Sagami Bay, but there are also numerous (which is an understatement) padlocks tied to fences on the cliffside. This is similar to many “locks of love” bridges and locations in the world — wherein couples write their names on padlocks and hang them to symbolize their love. But there’s an extra step you have to do at this spot and that’s to ring the bell together. If you do, it’s said that the lovers will stay together forever.

Iwaya Caves

Photo by Alex Ziminski

Of whimsical importance are the Iwaya Caves, fashioned by water erosion, and accessible by a flight of stone steps. A hot spot for tourists, the caves are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from March to October and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the remaining months of the year. Admission is ¥500 and you’ll be able to navigate the dark with a candle if it is not overcrowded. There’s also a chance to meet a dragon legend hiding in one of the caves.

Enoshima Sea Candle and Garden

The view from the Sea Candle is impressive. | Photo by Alex Ziminski

This observatory tower may look a little like a spaceship from a distance, but it offers spectacular views of the island and distant mountains — including the big woman herself, Mount Fuji. It stands 60 meters tall, but because it’s on the top of Enoshima, it is actually 119.6 meters above sea level. Entrance costs ¥500 and includes access to the Enoshima Samuel Cocking Garden before 5 p.m. (a separate fee of ¥500 is required when there is a nighttime event).

Enoshima Island Spa (Enospa)

There’s nothing like coupling the day at the beach with a spa visit. Head to the highly popular Enoshima Island Spa, which rests on the sea’s edge and offers onsen and pools with a view of Mt.Fuji. Note that this is not exactly a Cheapo option since it’s ¥1,700 to use the one and ¥3,000 for the whole spa experience — plus an extra ¥500¥1,000 in high season.

Benzaiten Nakamise Street

It was bigger than my head. | Photo by Alex Ziminski

This narrow shopping street can get very busy during the high season and on weekends, but it’s worth grabbing some snacks — like a giant shrimp cracker for ¥600 — and seeing what’s inside the souvenir stores. It is usually full of people on their way going up or down Enoshima, so if you want to avoid the hustle and bustle, we recommend opting for the ferryboat mentioned above.

Things to do around the island

Beaches

Enoshima main beach
Enoshima main beach | Photo by iStock.com/gyro

Although not the most stunning ones in Japan, Enoshima beaches are some of the closest sands to Tokyo. But if you want to play in the waves, get some sun, play beach volleyball, or just chill outside, this is where you want to be. The island also has an annual fireworks festival, where over 3,000 fireworks are displayed (held usually in October).

Temples

Temple trekkers should make their way to the Enoshima Daishi on the island or Ryukoji Temple near the station. While both are Buddhist, the former is newly constructed and boasts more modern architecture  (with kickass Fudo Myo-o statues at the entrance), while the latter is your traditional-style Buddhist temple.

Things to eat in Enoshima

Shirasu-don. | Photo by iStock.com/Ayakochun

We highly recommend just bringing your food and having a picnic on the island (one of our Cheapo beach tips) instead of dishing out to dine out. Though, if you must dabble in the local cuisine, shirasudon is the choice — a dish made of shirasu (tiny, whitebait fish) caught fresh in Sagami Bay and eaten raw or cooked on top of a rice bowl.

Where to stay in Enoshima

We’ve found that while there are some decent hotels on the island and around Enoshima — such as Iwamotoro — you can find better deals in Kamakura. We like budget hotel Gen Hotel Kamakura, as well as the swankier option of Kamakura Seizan. Also, if you go further out to Ōfuna and Fujisawa, you can find even cheaper places to stay.

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