National

Enoshima: An island in the spotlight

by Satoko Kawasaki

Staff Photographer

Enoshima, a small land-tied island in Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture, is a major tourist destination that welcomes 7 million visitors a year.

Boasting numerous attractions, including a Shinto shrine, a lighthouse, a cave and a rocky beach, the island fell under a renewed spotlight in May for its connection to the man who is set to marry Princess Mako.

The Chigogafuchi rock beach is at the end of a walking trail on the ocean side of Enoshima Island.
The Chigogafuchi rock beach is at the end of a walking trail on the ocean side of Enoshima Island. | SATOKO KAWASAKI

Kei Komuro, the fiance-to-be, once served as Enoshima’s tourism ambassador, and photos of him at that time were splashed all over the media when news of the planned engagement first broke.

A 389-meter-long bridge connects Enoshima to Katase Beach, which is popular with swimmers and sunbathers. As you pass through the shrine gate, you are greeted by souvenir shops on both sides of the main street, then by restaurants serving bowls of shirasu (fresh baby sardines) and several inns, two of which have histories of more than 350 years.

Tourism boom: Benzaiten Nakamise Street, at the entrance to the island of Enoshima in Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture, is crowded with tourists.
Tourism boom: Benzaiten Nakamise Street, at the entrance to the island of Enoshima in Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture, is crowded with tourists.
Traditional sweets and souvenir shops line Oiwaya Street on Enoshima Island.
Traditional sweets and souvenir shops line Oiwaya Street on Enoshima Island. | SATOKO KAWASAKI

After you pass the red gate of Enoshima Shrine, a 330-step stone staircase awaits, which leads to Enoshima Sea Candle, a lighthouse, at the top of the island. From there, you can experience magnificent views of Sagami Bay, Mount Fuji and even the Izu Peninsula.

Enoshima
Enoshima’s yacht harbor is seen from an observation deck situated on the way to the island’s lighthouse. | SATOKO KAWASAKI

Enoshima’s history dates back to the 12th century, when Kamakura Shogunate founder Minamoto no Yoritomo (1147-99) set up a shrine in 1182 to pray for his victory in battles. During the Edo Period (1603-1868), the island was crowded with people making pilgrimages to the shrine. The area’s popularity has been captured in the ukiyo-e illustrations of Utagawa Hiroshige and Katsushika Hokusai.

Participants in the annual Enoshima Tenno Festival carry a portable shrine into the sea on July 9. satoko kawasaki photos
Participants in the annual Enoshima Tenno Festival carry a portable shrine into the sea on July 9. | SATOKO KAWASAKI

In recent years, the area has flourished as a popular destination for ocean sports, including surfing and diving. In the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the island is set to host sailing competitions.

The lighthouse, known as Enoshima Sea Candle, is lit up on the night of July 14.
The lighthouse, known as Enoshima Sea Candle, is lit up on the night of July 14. | SATOKO KAWASAKI

This occasional series explores neighborhoods of interest in photographs.