I’ve been enjoying the weekend weather lately — after a rainy start to my stay in Japan, the sun has come out for my weekend excursions. I decided to take the Odakyu Line website’s advice and headed for Enoshima and the surrounding area on the Freepass, which includes discounts to some attractions and free rides on the local Enoden train line that is an old two-car trolley.
There’s Mt. Fuji in the distance!
The first thing I noticed as I exited the Enoshima train station, besides the cool facade of the station, was the sight of Mt. Fuji in the distance. Unfortunately, my photos prove that I need to go out and spend a few hundred dollars more on a better zoom lens. I would guess that if I had arrived earlier in the morning, the view of Mt. Fuji would be clearer — as it got later, the mountain disappeared into a bit of haze.
I took a small boat to the island of Enoshima (there’s a road to get there, but I decided this would be the easiest route to walk around the island before heading back to town for a trip to Karamura). The boat let us off on the rocky coast with fishermen along the edge. It all led to the rather small Iwaya Caves, which hold religious significance to the area supposedly dating back to 552. The most interesting part of the visit was that one section of the caves provided visitors with candles to carry.
The rest of the island is quaint despite the weekend crowds. There are plenty of shops and restaurants along narrow streets that wind through hills.
There is also Enoshima Shrine and a few small shrines and temples scattered about — you can tell I’m already suffering from temple fatigue because I’m not even noticing the differences in the ones that I’m visiting.
The views from the island made the day worthwhile — the other stops in the area didn’t provide as many great views. The hills of the island and the distant mountains made it impossible to keep walking without stopping to enjoy it. The only thing preventing me from taking more photos was the intense sunshine blinding me.
From Enoshima, I took the local trolley to the end of the line at Kamakura. In my search for the tourist destination, I followed the crowd and ended up on a busy tourist shopping street. After some wandering to get away from the shopping, I found my way toward what I wanted to see.
At Turugaoka Hachimangu Shrine in Kamakura, I was approached by a group of five young women who offered to take me on a tour of the shrine. They were all students at a nearby college studying to work in the tourism industry, and this was their way of practicing. This shrine was a much smaller version of Meiji Shrine, but it held similar importance.
Finding Buddha at Kamakura
As I thought the main attraction of Kamakura was near the station, I almost missed out on what I came to see: the second-largest Buddha in Japan. It may be the second-largest in Japan, but it was only the third (maybe fourth) largest that I’ve seen — the Giant Buddha of Leshan and Tian Tan in Hong Kong are much larger, and there were a few large ones in Thailand.
To see the Buddha, I had to take the trolley three stops back toward Enoshima to Hase station. From there, I walked about 15 minutes to Kotokuin Temple. The more than 13 meter bronze Buddha was impressive, but mostly because you can go inside. I didn’t go in because the line was a bit too long (and I was a bit tired from walking all day). There were even windows on the Buddha’s back.
There was another temple nearby, but it was closed by the time I was finished at Kotokuin.
The area also has a few microbrews that I was surprised to see. Kamakura beer is rather popular, but there were a few other brands. Unfortunately, I didn’t try too many of them as they were about $6 a bottle and I had a lot more walking to do before sunset. I managed to buy a bottle to bring back at the Lawson convenience store outside the train station and tried another one just before getting on the train.