Just a short train ride from Tokyo, you can visit two cultural sites in one day. Enoshima and Kamakura are beautiful adjacent cities in the Shonan area where you can escape from Tokyo’s constant, in-your-face energy and enjoy nature and history at a much slower, leisurely pace.
Both Enoshima and Kamakura are historic sites where you can learn much about the Japanese culture through its architecture, arts, and cuisine. There are numerous shrines and temples in the area, including the Great Buddha of Kamakura. The streets are lined with historic buildings and traditional shops, and walking around the area feels like being in a different era.
Enoshima and Kamakura are connected by a quaint seaside monorail, making the journey between the two cities an attraction in itself. Combine a visit to the two cities to make a relaxing day trip from Tokyo.
Enoshima and Kamakura – A brief history
Kamakura plays a big role in the history of Japan. It was the seat of power during the Kamakura period, which spanned from 1185 to 1333 and was marked by the rise of the samurais or warrior class.
During this period in Japanese history, lords depended on warriors to defend their lands. To ensure the warriors’ loyalty, lords would handsomely award them with lands, which eventually led to the warrior class’s rise to power.
One such warrior, Minamoto Yoritomo, became the first shogun, a military de facto ruler of the country. He seized power from the central government and aristocracy and established a feudal system based in Kamakura in which the private military, the samurai, gained political power.
The Kamakura shogunate was not a peaceful period in Japan. Though able to control vast tracts of land, the Kamakura shogunate was not a national regime and was constantly at war with the northern and western regions. The Kamakura shogunate suffered Mongol invasions, civil wars, and a major earthquake and tsunami that killed 23,000 people. The shogunate was finally conquered in 1333 by Nitta Yoshisada during the Seige of Kamakura, which ended the Kamakura shogunate.
The troubled period inspired arts and literature that still permeates Japanese culture until the present. Buddhism flourished at that time, in response to the disunity and violence.
In contrast to Kamakura’s political history, Enoshima’s story is one of mysticism. The island is dedicated to Benzaiten, goddess of music and entertainment, who folklore believes caused the island to rise from the bottom of the sea in the 6th century.
Presently, Enoshima is home to many temples and shrines, as well as botanical gardens and resorts – the perfect escape from Tokyo’s hustle and bustle.
Enoshima-Kamakura – a relaxing day trip from Tokyo
Enoshima and Kamakura are just a two-hour train ride out of Tokyo. Don’t be intimidated by Japan’s train system! It’s actually quite easy to navigate.
You’ll find all the information you need in this mini-guide. You can also download a free PDF guide here.
Getting there and around
Depending on where you want to start, you can either go to Enoshima first or to Kamakura. Enoshima is more laidback and relaxed with fewer tourists, while Kamakura is a bit more touristy. Personally, I like starting in Enoshima so I’m not overwhelmed by the crowds in Kamakura.
Using the Japan Rail Pass
Most travelers to Japan, especially those traveling around a lot over a short period of time, would benefit from having a Japan Rail (JR) Pass. This is a multi-use discounted ticket that is valid for travels on all JR national trains in Japan, including rides on the Shinkansen bullet trains and Narita express. It’s really a great deal, especially if you’re traveling to at least 2 prefectures over a one-week period.
Note that you have to buy the JR Pass before you travel to Japan, as the pass is only available to short-term tourists. You can order your JR Pass online hassle-free here.
When using the JR Pass, look for train routes that use the Japan Rail system using Jorudan’s Japan Rail Pass Transit Planner.
Set your destination as either Kamakura or Fujisawa, if you’re going to Enoshima first. You can then ride the Enoden into Enoshima.
Alternative: Odakyu’s Enoshima-Kamakura Freepass
If you are already in Japan and don’t have a JR Pass, you can get Odakyu’s Hakone-Kamakura Freepass instead. This will take you from Shinjuku to Katase-Enoshima / Fujisawa via their express trains
This covers your roundtrip ticket from Shinjuku to Katase-Enoshima / Fujisawa plus unlimited rides on the vintage railway (Enoden) that connects Enoshima and Kamakura, with lots of tourist spots in between. Plus, you can use the same pass to visit another great day trip from Tokyo: Hakone.
Other options for getting to Enoshima-Kamakura
If you’re not going to use the JR Pass or Odakyu Freepass, use Jorudan to find out the ideal travel route:
- To get to Enoshima: go to Katase-Enoshima or Fujisawa station
- To get to Kamakura: go to Kamakura station
Round-trip transportation for one from Shibuya to Katase-Enoshima would cost about 2,000-2,500 yen. You can buy the Enoden tickets in the station.
What to see and do in Enoshima-Kamakura – a sample itinerary for a day trip from Tokyo
Tourist map – Enoshima-Kamakura things to do
Use this Google map to plan your trip.
Tokyo to Enoshima
- Ride from Shinjuku station to Katase-enoshima station
- Walk across the bridge to enter Enoshima. On a clear day, you can see Mt. Fuji to the right when facing Enoshima (west).
- Eat shirasu – try to visit a restaurant with views of the sea
- Relax by the sea
- You can go to the Enoshima Sea Candle
- Walk up to the Enoshima Shrine
- Something special for cat lovers: Enoshima is one of Japan’s several “Cat Islands.” You can find them around the Okutsumiya Shrine
Enoshima to Kamakura
- Walk to the Enoshima station of the Enoshima Electric Railway / Enoshima Dentetsu (Enoden)
- They usually have a brochure of what’s interesting in each of the stops and if you have the one-day pass and lots of time, you can just hop on and off any stop that interests you. Just take note of the timetable, I think the train passes every 30 minutes, depending on the day of the week.
Popular stops along the Enoden
- Koshigoe – Koshigoe Shopping Street, Koshigoe Beach, Manpukuji Temple; it’s also a fishing port where you can get some more shirasu
- Shichirigahama Station – Many cafes and restaurants along the Shichirigahama coast; great for Mt. Fuji viewing (on a clear day)
- Gokurakuji – Gokurakuji Temple, Jojuin Temple
- Hase Station – You’ll see Hasedera Temple, Kotokuin Temple (Daibutsu / Great Buddha), and the Goryo Jinja Shrine
Mt. Fuji Photography Spots
If it’s a clear day and you’re particularly interested in taking photos of Mt. Fuji, here’s a guide to some of the best viewing spots in the area.
- Walk along the Komachi dori, a shopping street (with lots of snacks and souvenirs) that goes from the Kamakura station to…
- Tsurugaoka Hachimangu shrine
- There are also various museums and parks in Kamakura which you can check out if you have a bit more time
Back to Tokyo
- From Kamakura Station, you can ride the Enoden train back to Enoshima station then ride from Katase-enoshima to Shinjuku station via Odakyu Line;
- Or, to make the most of the Enoden sightseeing-train, you can ride from Kamakura Station all the way to Fujisawa Station, then ride to Shinjuku station via Odakyu.
Japan is an infinitely fascinating country and one of my personal favorites (and first love!). If you’re traveling to Japan for the first time, you’ll find out soon enough that your first won’t be the last and you are probably going to make a pact with yourself to visit at least once a year. That’s what I’ve been doing since I first visited the country almost a decade ago.
Here are more guides for your travels to Japan:
- How to have a relaxing holiday in Tokyo – If you’re in Tokyo and looking for day trips out of the city, I’m guessing you need a break from that insane pace. Here’s how to chill in Tokyo.
- Japan Travel Guides and Asia Travel Guides – I’m constantly updating the travel guides on the Little Holidays website so check out these links for updated travel guides.
I hope this guide encourages you to bring your travels in Japan outside of Tokyo! Don’t forget to download the free PDF guide here and share this with your friends. Have a fun holiday in Japan!