Side Quest: Enoshima And The Great Buddha

Nestled in Sagami Bay, the small island of Enoshima is situated near where the southern corners of Fujisawa and Kamakura meet. A popular summer destination, many people travel here for the surf and sandy beaches.

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One unique part about the Kamakura/Enoshima area is its transport. To get to the island, you can take the Shonan Monorail, one of only a handful of suspended monorails in the world. You’d think that with all the references in Japanese pop culture to these monorails, they would be everywhere in Japan, but alas there are only two.

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Heading down the main street from the station, we pass shops and tourist traps typical of beach towns.

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Passing under the highway, we come to the bay, stopping to watch a row boat competition for a bit.

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A pedestrian bridge provides access to Enoshima by foot.

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The shore near the bridge is a popular place to drop in with your jet ski.

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We spot what I assume to be a typical beach resident. He drives his dune-buggy van to the island, blasting his favorite mix tape for all to hear.

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Crowds fill up the main street leading up to the shrine.

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Stairs greet us at the entrance to the shrine. There are quite a few steps to climb, so someone came up with an idea: install escalators all around the island and charge to use them. We choose the free option.

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The main shrine area is very nice. Due to the history of the island, these shrines are fairly new. They had been absent since the Meiji government enacted the Shinto and Buddhism separation order.

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Lots of signs warning about hawks in the area. Squadrons circle overhead, planning their next attack on an unsuspecting hot dog or chicken stick.

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Buying a ticket to try out one of the escalators built on the island.

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Once inside, it’s pretty much like any other escalator.

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A modern lighthouse named the Sea Candle sits at the top of the island inside of the Samuel Cocking gardens. The grounds are named after the previous owner of the island.

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Hula dancers show off their moves at a Hawaiian festival taking place next to the lighthouse.

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We grab a couple of chicken and waffle sandwiches for lunch. Also, some mango beer for me.

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Queuing for the elevator ride to the lighthouse observation deck.

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The observation deck is split into two sections: an indoor section with maps showing landmarks along the skyline, and an outdoor section for those unobstructed views.

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Great views from all angles. On a clear day it’s possible to see Mt. Fuji, but there was just enough haze in the distance to keep it hidden today.

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Heading back down to continue along the path to the back of the island.

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Shops and houses line the streets of the main path. Part of me wouldn’t mind living out here, but only for a while.

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Requisite island cat lounging in a place just out of reach.

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A shop brandishing an American flag sells Hawaiian-themed food.

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Descending the steps to the rocky coast on the side of the island facing the open sea.

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A staircase leads down to the rocky shore. It might be used during low tide but right now it’s off limits.

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Past the rocky cliffs and into the caves.

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The main entrance to the caves is decorated with pictures, ‘artifacts’, and illuminations to get you into that cave-exploring mood.

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The ceiling gets low pretty quick. Crouching and ducking is required for tall people.

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Plastic sheet domes shield us from the drip of seawater.

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Along the way we see these poop stones that turn out to be weathered snake statues.

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Further in, kids are the only ones left standing straight.

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At the end of this cave is some random stuff of significance.

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Heading back outside to see the next cave.

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Nothing but shimmering seas and rocky coasts here.

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On the way to the other cave, we spot the turtle rock mentioned in the guide. I guess I can see how it could be mistaken for a giant turtle in the surf.

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The second cave is more of the same. Low, leaky ceilings.

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But this one has a dragon at the end!

After the exciting cave explorations, we head back to the station to catch a train to our next stop. This time however, we take the Enoshima Electric Railway, Enoden for short.

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The Enoden is a single track railway that makes its way between Kamakura and Fujisawa. The double-track stations allow for bidirectional traffic. Along the way, it maneuvers through cramped residential sections, turns into a street car for a bit, and travels along the coast. The route and its retro train cars make it feel like you are stepping back in time a little.

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We step off at Hase station, and walk up the street to our final destination, the Kamakura Diabutsu.

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Lots of restaurants and shops for travelers to stop in.

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The Great Buddha of Kamakura greets us as we enter the temple ground. Several hundred years old, the statue has survived storms and tsunami that destroyed the halls which once enclosed it. Weighing over 120 tons and standing over 40ft (~13m) tall, the statue is made of bronze that was once gilded in gold.

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Two windows located on the back of the Great Buddha provide light for visitors viewing the interior of the statue.

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A girl burns incense with the help of her mother in front of the statue.

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Heading back to the station, we buy some senbei from a small shop.

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One last ride on the Enoden before transferring to a normal JR line.

Enoshima was an awesome little island to explorer with plenty of interesting places to see. And Kamakura has plenty more to offer besides the Great Buddha, so we may be back again soon. The area makes for a great day trip out of Tokyo.