While not exactly beautiful once you look a little closer, Enoshima is one of the Kanto region’s best-known and most convenient beach getaways. Just try not to swallow too much of the water.
The local sand contains a lot of volcanic minerals, giving a darker colour not to everyone’s taste. On the other hand that means that it absorbs the day’s sunlight and becomes a nice warming blanket in the spring when the water is icy.
The beaches can be nicest in spring and early summer, before the infrastructure is built and the hordes of Tokyoites make their annual pilgrimage, flocking to the sand (though it’s game over for most swimmers on September 1st regardless of the weather).
Being mainly cliff-lined means not a lot of beach or swimming on the island (see below for the very notable exception) but it’s well worth a side-trip. As with many Japanese tourist draws it has a historical, religious significance: reflected in the presence of Enoshima Jinja (江島神社).
The shrine goes through three sections - Hetsunomiya, Nakatsunomya and Okutsunomiya - each with their own appeal, and is said to date back to at least 552 AD.
The standard itinerary is to trek up through the three shrines to the top viewpoint (only 20 minutes). The shopping street as you arrive has some nice, typically festive fare for a tourist site in Japan, like barbecued squid on sticks and sticky rice sweets.
The Sky Candle, at the top is a high-tech lighthouse you can see for miles and miles, with a peaceful garden and top floor viewing platform.
Where is Enoshima?
Enoshima is in the southern tip of Fujisawa City, Kanagawa, a busy commuter town south of Yokohama and Tokyo, and very easily reachable.
It’s part of the famous Shonan coastline which runs all the way west from Kamakura to the other wordly Izu peninsula (a place dotted with beaches of a much greater league). It’s a coast defined by cracking Fuji views, crashing and surfable waves from Sagami Bay, and the ‘Shonan Lifestyle.’
It’s a little confusing but basically to get to the town’s two main beaches you take a dark underpass (don’t try and cross the road!) and then decide which beach you want to go to: east or west. The East Beach (東海岸) is most popular (ask for (higashi).
It has a nice sheltered bay of flat water. Enoshima Island should be on your right and the town on your left. It’s not the prettiest of towns but it looks nice with the sun shining down on it.
The West Beach (西海岸) is a bit more open to Sagami Bay, bringing cleaner water and slightly bigger waves. In the summer it’s a bit less busy and built up here. To get here take the west (ask for nishi) exit at the underpass and walk a bit further along. The beach is large, and has the island to its left.
Both beaches should only be 5 minutes from Katase-Enoshima Station.
It’s easy - and recommended if you have the time - to mix in a trip to Kamakura with a visit here. It’s a connection with picturesque views, via a sweet little coastal train, the Enoden. Both beaches should only be 5 minutes from Katase-Enoshima Station.
How do I get to Enoshima?
There are two train stations in Enoshima, and from either one you just need to follow signs to the beach:
-Odakyu Line to Katase-Enoshima is closest. Almost right on the beach. This route is around an hour from Shinjuku Station, Tokyo. (630 JPY)
-Enoden Line to Enoshima a little more of a walk, a little more of a walk, but only 10 minutes via a pleasant shopping street. A 30 minute ride from Kamakura. (260 JPY)
Is is possible to swim on the island. Cut right from the shopping street and down a small track, you’ll find a small, secluded, secret sandy beach. Surrounded by greenery and pretty rocks, on a good day it feels like a tropical paradise.
The water is a bit shallow and does have some large rocks underfoot but the location is incredible. There are some old-style wooden fishing boats docked here and almost zero fellow day trippers.
Super. You’ve seen it all now: oceanic views from the top of the island, shrines, a dramatic private beach, a shopping street with fun food, and a seaside-day-out beach. But hold off for sunset.
To truly complete a day in Enoshima, head towards the island’s shopping street and veer off to the right at the huge, sort of out-of-place building in a garish European style. It’s the Enoshima Island Spa. After six it’s cheap, and so worth it, with mixed bathing (not naked) outdoor pools for swimming and a view directly over the cliffs to Sagami Bay. On clear days it’s the most idyllic spot for a Fuji view.
Facilities include a restaurant with excellent views, real hot-spring onsen, massage, a bar … to top it all off you can even order burritos in the pool!
You’re well kitted out for konbini in Enoshima whichever way you come. The shopping street has a Lawson and a 7/11 plus some street food in summer. In the short lived summer period, roughly July - September the beach has restaurants, bars and live music. There’s also a Konbini near the beach right next to the Odakyu Line station so don’t worry if you forget something.
Just off the beach there’s a bar called Oppa-La which hosts DJs and parties from Tokyo and all over the world. If you miss the last train there are far worse places to watch a hazy sunrise over Fuji.
Oh, and don’t waste your money on the outdoor escalator.