30 December 2014, Tuesday
Super fun day warning ahead! Highly recommended, too! Definitely make your way out to Kamakura and Enoshima (Enoshima more than Kamakura). You can buy a whole day use of the Enoshima trains for ¥700, so it’s really nice!
In the morning, Ching, George, Juu, Kyuu, Jeongi and I traveled from Musashi-Kosugi, to Ofuna, and lastly, to Kamakura. We quickly walked through the streets nearby, looking at all the food stalls. They had a lot of interesting foods and desserts, like an oshiruko made out of mikan (oshiruko is a thin, red bean soup)! I passed by a dango shop selling off-beat flavors like sakura, matcha, chestnut, and honey-lemon. I really wanted to try the sakura and strawberry flavors, so Ching offered to buy one, while I buy the other. George saw us eating them, so decided to buy matcha for himself.
I highly recommend the strawberry flavor! The sakura was so-so (some people say it’s a perfume-y flavor) and the matcha was also just okay. But the strawberry – well, if you love strawberries, you will love this dango.
The other shop we went into was an ice cream store connected to a store selling candied citrus fruit peels. They also had free samples! Soooo yummy. Juu decided to buy houji tea flavored ice cream. She let us girls try it, but the guys were off-limits xD It had a smokey, strong, dark flavor (if I remember correctly). There were plenty of other, unique flavors like caramel flan, cassis, sweet sake, mitarashi (the sweet soy sauce used on mitarashi dango), and cafe au lait. However, prices were a bit high.
We ended up walking to a temple…that I don’t know the name of.
Sorry – I don’t plan the trips
There were a lot of other tourists around the area, though. I picked up a kuji from the temple and then we walked around. At the place where ema were hung, there were a lot of ema written in English, Arabic, or other languages.
The grounds of the temple were quite nice – there was a large pond with a cemetery island in the center.
We didn’t stay for long, and soon made our way down another street filled with shops selling souvenirs and food. I saw a place selling a distinctly green pastry called Kamakurayaki – which was essentially a cake filled with red bean paste. Similar to dorayaki, but not made of two thin cakes.
It was quite good and cheap, so I would advise buying one as well. I even convinced George to buy a pack for his family as a souvenir. They weren’t green tea flavored like I had expected, though.
We walked through a few other shops, but made our way back to the station to head to other places in the area.
*Some of the stations in Kamakura/Enoshima have stamps in them, so, if you like that sort of thing like me, it’s advisable to bring a small notebook so you can use the stamps. If you want to try out the stamp rally, I believe, at Enoshima, you can get a stamp rally map if you ask a station attendant.
Our next stop was to the Great Buddha, another popular tourist destination. On the way, there were a ton of shops selling Great Buddha souvenirs and food items. What really caught my eye, though, was a shop selling Turkish ice cream. I read an article that the ice cream is distinct in texture and is famous for the amount of stretch it has, so I really wanted to try it. However, we had to go to our destination first. There was a small entrance fee to get into the temple housing the great statue (¥200) and a fee to go inside the Buddha (¥50 or so). Just be aware that you can go inside the Buddha, especially if you’re intending only to go once. A friend’s friend didn’t know about that. The entrance is right behind the statue.
The inside really wasn’t much though. There was a sign to read inside, and the space was pretty small. The stairs, especially, were narrow and hard to see. The grounds behind, however, were much nicer. They also sold ice cream and souvenir foods at a shop outside.
On the way back to the station, I got my Turkish ice cream – fig and vanilla flavor!
I would advise just getting the vanilla flavor. Fig is exotic (to me), but it didn’t taste as good as I expected it to. But, I’m not a fan of Fig Newtons either, so…
We tried to find a good place to stop for a shirasu don (a bowl of rice topped with shirasu, which are a tiny, translucent white fish that are eaten whole), which is famous in Kamakura/Enoshima, but everywhere was really expensive. We decided to hold back until Enoshima.
Our next stop was to Gokurakuji Station – literally, just the station. Kyuu and Ching were fans of a drama that was shot there called Saigo kara Nibanme no Koi and wanted to see the place. There was even a signed piece of paper by the cast of the drama on display at the front of the station. The building itself was quite interesting – there was no IC card reader or ticketing booth available for use. It was tiny and manned.
*Just me rambling, but if you’re a fan of trains, Enoshima’s are probably the best. There’s a ton of varieties and colors, and a lot of them are old and still have wooden floors.
We were probably there for 15 minutes before we headed to our next destination: the beach! ….or so I thought. It was the beach, but we went to Kamakura Koukou Mae Station just to see the place where the Slam Dunk anime was set in. The scenery was beautiful and it was actually quite fun trying to recreate the scene. However, cars pass by the train crossing all the time, so it was really difficult. We managed to do something similar, however, it wasn’t perfect. We probably embarrassed ourselves and caused havoc for the cars haha.
And then we finally made our way over to Enoshima. You have to walk there, but we made it to the closest station and stopped by a Lawson to buy lunch on the way. There were tons of advertisements for shirasu don and shirasu-filled dishes (like shirasu pizza!) there. There was even a small building with train memorabilia.
The bridge to Enoshima was really chilly. It is by the sea, so it can’t be helped, but be prepared for strong breezes.
Once we arrived on the island, there was really just one, thin road up to the shrine. All around were shops and restaurants and even a stall selling shirasu (and even wasabi) ice cream! I was thinking I’d try it, but I never did. Which might be for the best.
I also got lost in the crowd a few times. The street up to the shrine was really crowded, and if you don’t keep track of your companions, they’ll up and leave you behind and head to the shrine themselves.
Enoshima is also a popular couple destination. There’s a bell on the island that couples are supposed to ring together (you’ll stay together forever, or some other superstition if you do) and there are fantastic views. The shrines seem to be famous for love, too, since I saw some heart shaped ema requesting you write names of the boyfriend/girlfriend and your own name.
There are also tons. of. steps. The place has so many stairs, and, like a the smart business it is, there are escalators you can use at some points on the island – however, you have to pay to use them.
Well, at least you can get a ton of exercise. But, trust me, you will get super tired.
Something else I found interesting about the island was that they have specific areas with stands specifically for taking selfies. It’s convenient but also really funny.
There are more than one shrine on the island and we passed by them, but made our way to the caves. Unfortunately, we couldn’t go inside, since it was about to be high-tide, so we instead, watched the sunset from the shore/rocks. It was a really pretty sight and there were a ton of cameramen about, probably swarming there to get the perfect shot. Wish I did that.
It was really relaxing and beautiful.
At night, the Sea Candle is lit up. I was thinking of going there, since I saw an ad for it at the station, but I didn’t feel like climbing more stairs, so we quit and went up and down a ton of stairs to get back to the entrance to look for a place to eat dinner.
There was a garden near Enoshima Shrine that was filled with lights. Even after dark, Enoshima is gorgeous.
We found a cheap shirasu don shop near the middle of the narrow street back down to the bridge we took to enter Enoshima. The amount of food you get for the price was really good. Sadly, the wait was super long. The restaurant was called Tobiccho.
But still, highly recommended! Fresh shirasu is really good. Unlike when I had shirasu sushi at Hamazushi, the fish didn’t have a strong, sea taste. It was refreshing, and there was only slight fish taste. It might be uncomfortable to some to eat tiny fish that can still stare at you, but I advise you to try it at least once. If you’re fish shy, though, they have shirasu tamagyaki, which hides the fish pretty well in layers of egg. They even had shirasu beer and ice cream!
Just be sure not to buy the bowl that has a huge fried something on it (it’s fried veggies, maybe) – it’s way too much and way too greasy, my friends who all got it were tired of it after half the bowl. I had to finish it off for them (but even that is ill-advised, since I had a severe stomachache after the huge amount of food I consumed). So, sadly, my day ended on a bad note of indigestion lol.
But, overall, the trip was absolutely wonderful. I kind of wish I spent a whole day just at Enoshima, though. It would’ve been nice to do all the activities there. But definitely go for the views and food! A+++