Kanagawa’s Enoshima is a small island connected by a 600-meter bridge to the Katase shore. It is only 4 km around but one of the most popular tourist spots in the Shonan area. And no wonder—it is a really neat place! In the old days, Enoshima was famous as a pilgrimage destination. And Ukiyoe painters such as Hokusai and Hiroshige created works of beauty featuring the island that are still with us today. More recently, beginning around the time of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, it has become a mecca for fans of marine sports. Because it is convenient to reach, most people are daytime guests. But if you stay overnight on Enoshima, you will make a wonderful discovery on this tiny island.
Fantastic Fuji view!
Iwamoto-ro (岩本楼) is a Japanese ryokan (inn) that is situated just over the bridge, on the right side of the main street, facing west. All of the guest rooms face the sea, and therefore Mt. Fuji as well, beyond the sea. It is worth visiting if only for this stunning view. When we stayed at Iwamoto-ro in mid December, the sun set at 4:30 p.m. The transition from day to night took about 30 minutes. From dusk to twilight I stuck close to the window to see the exquisite contrast of shades of color of Mt. Fuji and the orange-red sky. Although Mt. Fuji is always there, you will probably only be able to catch this breathtaking show in the winter, when the sky is crystal clear.
After enjoying the gorgeous sunset from the window, our caretaker—a woman named Mari—brought our dinner to the room. It included a great variety of local Enoshima seafood. First, a plate of sashimi (raw fish), grilled shrimp, turban cooked in its own shell, a small bowl of salmon roe, sesame tofu, vegetables mixed with sweet vinegar, a seasonal hot-pot stew, etc. This trip was a birthday present from my husband and he mentioned it to her, so she brought us a complimentary bottle of white wine from the management. We really enjoyed the dinner.
Each room has its own private bath, but enjoying a dip in the inn’s big bath is pretty enjoyable. They have two types of very interesting baths. One, they call their “Roman bath”. It is decorated with stained glass and interesting ceramic tiles. You are able to feel like a king or queen in ancient Rome must have felt! The other is a bath dug into the side of the mountain, like a cave. Why don’t you explore this unknown space?! You can enjoy use of these baths 24 hours a day, whenever you want.
Free Wifi connection
Iwamoto-ro has a free Wifi service called FreeSpot. If you are a Mac device user, you can easily set up your machine for their connection. Please ask them for the key code at the reception desk. The set up method is explained at the hyperlink above.
Iwamoto-ro used to be called Iwamoto-in. At that time, it was an accommodation for the many shoguns and daimyos of the Edo era. At that time, the emperor was in Kyoto and the Shogun was in Edo, and people frequently went and back from Edo to Kyoto along the Tokai-do. That was not only for political reasons, but also for cultural and business exchanges. Iwamoto-in was one of the places they enjoyed visiting—they’d have a hot bath to recover from the fatigue of a long journey, and then spend the evening eating and enjoying the marvelous view of Mt. Fuji.
For Japanese visitors, their Internet reservation system is the easiest way to make a reservation. But unfortunately, they have no English version, so please send them a FAX in English (+81-466-24-0578). Prices differ according to the season, how many meals you have and the size of the meal, as well as the size of your room. The range would be between 13,000 yen-27,000 yen per person per night.
I strongly recommend the combination trip of Kamakura and Enoshima. How about watching temples and feeling samurai history in Kamakura, and then relaxing and refreshing yourself in Enoshima!