Enoshima Island

A hidden history of dragons and faith

By Sleiman Azizi    - 1 min read

You'd have to say that the island of Enoshima is an enigmatic place of worship, tourism and nature. Easily overlooked due to its proximity to nearby Kamakura and its famous Daibutsu Big Buddha statue, Ensohima is also hidden away by its more contemporary beach culture.

The shrines on Enoshima island are dedicated to the worship of Benzaiten who, they say, soothed a five-headed dragon that was causing the local people much grief. As part of that soothing, Benzaiten raised a mass of land from the sea, which became the island of Enoshima. By the time of the Edo Period, Enoshima had become a major pilgrimage site.

An addition to the creation story is the visit by Hojo Tokimasa, the first regent of the Kamakura shogunate in the 12th century. Praying at the shrine, Tokimasa received a prophecy by a mysterious lady. Some say this lady was Benzaiten herself. As part of this prophecy, she left behind three dragon scales which Tokimasa then used as his family's crest.

As you walk around the island, you will notice dragons everywhere, and all of them stem from the island's relationship with dragons.

Getting there

Enoshima is served by three stations: Katase-Enoshima station on the Odakyu line; Enoshima station on the Enoden line; and Shonan Enoshima station on the Shonan Monorail.

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Sleiman Azizi

Sleiman Azizi @sleiman.azizi

A Japanese Permanent Resident who enjoys drooling over proper soba and sushi, Japanese aesthetics ticks all the right boxes for me and I enjoy stringing words together. I've almost one hundred published articles on Japan as well as five English language books written in the traditional Japanese zuihitsu-style.