New Year in Enoshima
New Year in Enoshima, the title itself must have surprised you. But read on for what follows will surely make you reconsider your New Year plans.........!!
Well known as a summer destination for Tokyoites to get a summer beach break, Enoshima displays a mix of surf culture and Tokyo glam during the months of July and August. With that reputation it may not be the first place to come to mind when you think of a ‘hatsuhinode (初日の出)’ visit to a shrine in the New Year. It not only provides a beautiful location to admire the beauty of the setting sun over the horizon on the eve of New Year but also the picturesque sunrise of the New Year. SO why not head to Enoshima this year to watch 初日の出 or the the First Sunrise of the Year!!
Photo: C-san on Flickr
With so many famous shrines in Tokyo it is easy to understand how Enoshima Shrine would be overlooked but it offers a great way to enjoy the New Year ritual next to the sea in a less crowded setting than the likes of Meiji-jingu or Senso-ji.
With a history dating back almost 1500 years there is certainly a mystique to the shrine and the island, but the newer main hall, established a mere 800 years ago, is the place to go for new year luck.
A trip on the Odakyu Enoshima line will take you to Katase-Enoshima station and a short scenic walk along the connecting bridge will take you to Enoshima Island. You are met with a street of restaurants and souvenir shops. The restaurants always offer a local favorite, shirasu, dried baby anchovies, as well as a wide range of other fresh, delicious seafood. Sadly, the souvenir shops offer out of place kitsch for the most part.
The narrow approach to the main gate leading to Enoshima Shrine is always busy with sightseers and couples looking for a romantic place to spend an afternoon. On New Year’s Day these groups give way to people searching for a blessing for their coming year.
The steep climb up to the shrine can be taxing for the unfit but the island is furnished with a series of escalators for those who are more interested in paying a bit for a more comfortable experience.
After arriving at the main shrine area you can purchase traditional Japanese charms and make your wish for the future. Afterwards, the warm, sweet amazake that is served works well to fight off the chill of the sea air.
After ensuring good luck for the New Year you can continue on to the top of the island where the viewing platforms offer stunning views of Mt. Fuji to the West.
You can continue on into the botanical garden on top of the island and go to the top of Enoshima Tower to get a spectacular view elevated 120 m above the top of the island and Sagami Bay spread out below.
On your return to the bottom of the island and the bridge back to the main land don’t forget to try some tako sembei. A whole octopus is pressed between two hot, heavy metal plates and turned into a crispy cracker. It is a grisly, but popular, snack on the island.
With your luck assured and the sea air in your nostrils you can return across the bridge knowing you spent an afternoon in a comfortable, small bubble outside of the normal routine of Tokyo.