It’s time for A to Wa of Japan again! Last week’s post was about things beginning with う (u) and we looked at ume (梅), udon (うどん) and Ujikintoki (宇治金時). This week we are looking at things beginning with え (e). I’d like to thank everyone who joined in with suggestions:
Jay Dee suggested the Edo-Tokyo Museum (江戸東京博物館), Edo Castle (江戸城), Ehime Prefecture (愛媛県), eringi (エリンギ / a kind of mushroom), Enoshima (江の島), ebi tempura (エビ天ぷら / prawn tempura), esukareita gakkou (エスカレーター学校 / escalator school), and ekiden (駅伝 / long distance relay race); Vicki suggested Enoshima and eboshi (烏帽子 / traditional Shinto headdress or hat); lovelycomplex22 suggested enka (演歌 / a kind of traditional music); Zooming Japan suggested edamame (枝豆 / boiled or steamed soybeans), Enoshima, and Ehime Prefecture; Andreh suggested the Edo-Tokyo Museum; and Francoise suggested Edo (江戸 / the former name of Tokyo), Enryakuji (延暦寺 / a temple on mount Hiei), edamame and enoki (エノキ / a kind of mushroom).
I’m really impressed with all your original and creative suggestions! It’s always hard to pick a topic or topics, but this week it’s a little easier because one of the suggestions is a place in Japan which I adore and would love to visit again some day. So, this week I’m choosing just one topic, and I’m going to write about…
If I’m feeling a bit down, it’s always this view that makes me happy again (although it also makes me long to be in Japan). This picture was taken from the Enoshima Observation Lighthouse, which I think cost about ￥300 to get in. The lighthouse tower was rebuilt in 2003, after the old one had been in place for about 50 years. It is 59.8 metres high, and 119.6 metres above sea level and, as you can see above, the view is incredible.
To put Enoshima into a bit of context for you, here’s a map showing Enoshima, Kamakura, Tokyo and Yokohama (use the buttons on the left to zoom out):
You can see that they’re all really close. Actually, when I visited Enoshima it was as a day trip from Tokyo. I spent most of the day in Kamakura and then hopped over to Enoshima. If I went again, I would probably stay the night somewhere though, as there wasn’t quite enough time to see everything.
There isn’t a huge amount to do on Enoshima – the whole island is only about 4km in circumference – but it’s a very nice place to potter around and you could easily fill a day or two there. It was incredibly windy the day I went there, but I imagine on a warm spring day it would be a very relaxing place to just spend time.
Other than the Observation Lighthouse, these are some of the attractions that can be found on Enoshima:
Enoshima Shrine (江の島神社)
There are actually three parts of Enoshima Shrine around the island. In the main complex there is a building which houses one of Japan’s most venerated statues of Benten, the goddess of wealth and patron goddess of Enoshima.
Samuel Cocking Garden (江の島サムエル・コッキング苑)
This garden is actually where the Observation Lighthouse is located, as well as other curious structures such as the one above. The garden was established in 1880 by Samuel Cocking, a British trader who lived on Enoshima.
Iwaya Caves (岩屋)
I enjoyed the caves that I visited in Japan, but unfortunately I didn’t have time to visit Iwaya Caves along Enoshima’s southern coast. The first cave contains some Buddhist statues, and the second cave is dedicated to a legendary dragon, believed to be the guardian deity for fishermen.
Enoshima Daishi is a Buddhist temple which was built in 1993. It is a modern temple of the Shingon Sect, and houses a six metre tall statue of Fudomyo, a protector of Buddhism. During the Meiji Period (1868 – 1912), all three temples on Enoshima were destroyed when the government separated Shinto and Buddhism. It was not until this temple was built that Enoshima had a temple again.
Ryuren-no-Kane (Bell of Ryuren)
On top of Enoshima’s hill there is a bell – the Bell of Ryuren, or the ‘dragon lovers bell’. According to legend, there was a dragon which tormented the people of the prefecture, and for many days there were storms and earthquakes. Then suddenly a beautiful woman appeared, and when the clouds cleared Enoshima was born. The dragon fell in love with the woman, and she accepted his proposal when he agreed to stop being so bad. The beautiful woman is now worshipped as the goddess Benten, and the dragon is Ryujin. This spot has become a place where couples now go to declare their love for one another – they ring the bell together and write their names on locks which they then attach to the fence. Having written about ‘love locks’ over on my other blog, AliMuskett.com, I find this fascinating and wish I had spotted it when I visited Enoshima.
So, if you’re in Tokyo and fancy a day trip or a night away, I highly recommend Enoshima. It has a completely different pace to Tokyo – much more relaxed and peaceful and, as you can see above, even though it’s small there’s enough to keep you occupied. To access Enoshima from Tokyo, you can take either the Odakyu Railway from Shinjuku or the JR Tokaido Line from Tokyo or Shinagawa. The Odakyu Railway will take you to Enoshima, but you may need to transfer onto a local train at Fujisawa Station. The JR will take you to Fujisawa Station, and from there you can pick up the Enoden (a local train), which will take you to Enoshima. The Enoden also runs between Kamakura and Enoshima. There are various passes available which may give you combined ticket prices and discounts, so it’s best to plan your journey and investigate these options before you buy your ticket.
Next week we’ll start with お (o), so please leave a comment below suggesting a topic for things beginning with お. Topics can be anything, as long as they are connected to Japan – food, places, people, characters, whatever you want to hear about! Just remember that the words you suggest must be Japanese (for example, you can’t suggest ‘octopus’ for ‘o’, because ‘octopus’ in Japanese is ‘taco’, but you could suggest ‘Okinawa’, which is a place in Japan.
I look forward to hearing your suggestions! (*^_^)v