Vegetarian's Japan Guide

The Complete Guide to Enoshima Shrine

Upon commencement of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics yacht competition, the previously hidden beauty of a small island floating on Sagami Bay was suddenly revealed to the world. A sacred religious destination, Enoshima’s history centers on the Enoshima Shrine (江島神社). Before the separation of Shiotisim and Buddism, Enoshima was the precinct of Kinkizan Yogan-ji Temple (金亀山与願寺) that worshipped Benzaiten, a Buddism goddess of wealth, beauty, and wisdom. Although the name of the religious facility has changed, it remains a popular pilgrimage spot in Japan to pray for Benzaiten’s blessing.

The Enoshima Shrine, the Itsukushima Shrine (厳島神社) in Miyajima, and the Tsukubusuma Shrine (都久夫須麻神社) on Chikubu Island (竹生島) are known as the Three Great Benzaiten Shrines in Japan.

Enoshima Shrine consists of three sub-shrines, the Hetsumiya (辺津宮), the Nakatsumiya (中津宮), and the Okutsumiya (奥津宮). Each of the sub-shrines has one goddess enshrined, who are all daughters of the goddess of the sun, Amaterasu Ōmikami (天照大神). All three of them are collectively known as Enoshima-Daijin (江島大神).

The Enoshima Iwaya Caves at the far back of the island are the most sacred spot for worship. The caves are said to be the origin of Enoshima Shrine, where Benzaiten descended from heaven. Because of this legend, Emperor Kinmei (欽明天皇) ordered the erection of Okutsumiya in 552 next to the Enoshima Iwaya Caves.

Refer to Our Enoshima Article for the Legend of Enoshima.

The List of Attractions Related to Enoshima Shrine

If you want to purchase charms and/or draw fortune slips at Enoshima Shrine, please come between the shrine’s office’s opening hours from 8:30 am to 5 pm.

Tip: Refer to HERE if you want to rent a Kimono when you are on Enoshima Island!

Explore Enoshima With a Guided Tour

If you prefer a guide to introduce you to the charms of Enoshima, how about joining one of the below tours?

How Much Time Is Required to Explore Enoshima

It is best to give yourself around 3.5 to 4 hours on Enoshima. Also, add extra time if you plan on taking some breaks, as there are some cute cafes with delicious sweets!

☛ Enoshima is usually less crowded in the morning. So if you have one of the regional transportation passes, you can visit Enoshima in the morning, head to Kamakura for a vegan/vegetarian lunch (we have included a few choices at the end of the article), stroll around the temples in Kamakura, and come back to Enoshima for the breathtaking sunset scenery.
☛ Refer to HERE for the area’s congestion map.

Enoshima Escar (江の島エスカー)

At the left of Enoshima Shrine’s torii gate, there is an escalator for anyone who doesn’t want to climb the stairs.

The 106-meter-long escalator is operated by Enoshima Electric Railway (江ノ島電鉄) and is divided into four sections. You can get off the escalator at each of Enoshima Shrine’s sub-shrines. So there won’t be many things you will miss out on if you choose this method to complete your Enoshima Shrine pilgrimage.


Note that the Enoshima Escar operates in one direction only. For the return trip, you can use the pleasure boat, Benten-maru, to travel from the Enoshima Iwaya Caves close to Okutsumiya back to Enoshima Benten Bridge.

The Operation Hours and the Cost of Enoshima Escar

  • Enoshima Escar is operating from 8:50 am to 7:05 pm
  • The cost is
    • 360 yen for adults
    • 180 yen for children.

Tip: If you have purchased the Enoshima 1-Day Passport, it will be free for you to use the escalator.

Enoshima Shrine’s Crest

When you stroll around Enoshima, this crest – three black triangles surrounded by waves – can be seen everywhere on the island. It is the crest of the Enoshima Shrine, the Three Scales Facing the Waves (向い波の中の三つの鱗).

If you are a big samurai fan, you might recognize the three triangles as the Hōjō clan’s family crest. And you are right!

Enoshima’s shrine crest was built on the family crest of the Hōjō clan by adding the wavy patterns around the triangles, which represent the three scales that Hōjō Tokimasa (北条時政) received from Benzaiten.

Tokimasa, born in 1138, had a strong faith in Enoshima Benzaiten. As the head of the clan, he shut himself in the Enoshima Iwaya Caves for 35 days and prayed sincerely to Benzaiten for the prosperity of his clan.

On the night of completing the ritual, a beautiful woman appeared and said to him: “Your last life was a revered monk. Due to your self-sacrifice and good deeds, your offspring shall be the leader of Japan”. The woman then transformed into a serpent and disappeared into the sea, leaving three scales behind.

Realizing it was Benzaiten whom he met, Tokimasa used the shape of the three scales as the Hōjō clan’s crest.

Tokimasa’s daughter Hōjō Masako (北条政子) later married Minamoto no Yoritomo (源頼朝), the founder and the first shōgun of the Kamakura shōgunate.

Zuishin-mon Gate (瑞心門)

The magnificent gate beyond the red torii gate is called Zuishin-mon (Young Heart Gate). The gate was constructed to imitate the dragon king’s Ryūgū Castle. Hoping the pilgrims visit the shrine with a heart as pure as children, the gate was named Zuishin.

When you get to the gate, don’t just walk past it. The gate itself is an attraction!

© Fujisawa City Tourist Association
© Fujisawa City Tourist Association

Paintings, such as lions and peonies, can be seen on the walls and the ceiling of the gate. The lions are acting as guardians for the gods that are enshrined here. At the same time, they will chase away the bad luck attached to the pilgrims.

Moreover, remember to check out the statue of Benzaiten and the 15 children that serve her at the gate!

Hetsumiya (辺津宮)

Close to the entrance of Enoshima, Hetsumiya Shrine is also known as Shimo no Miya (下の宮) (The Lower Shrine) because of its geographical location. The goddess that is enshrined here is the youngest sister, Tagitsuhime no Mikoto (田寸津比売命), a goddess of water.

The shrine was established in 1206 to pray for the prosperity of the Kamakura shōgunate by the third shōgun, Minamoto no Sanetomo (源実朝). The current buildings were renovated in 1976.

© Fujisawa City Tourist Association

Remember to stroke the wooden hammer (打ち出の小槌) in front of the worship hall three times while making a wish in your head. It is said that by doing so, your wish will come true!

☛ Apply at the shrine’s office to worship Tagitsuhime no Mikoto inside the worship hall. But do expect there to be a queue.
☛ Put some coins into the interestingly-shaped donation box in front of the worship hall. It is designed to give you some sounds when coins are dropped!

Cogon Grass Ring (Chigaya no Wa, 茅の輪)

At the right of the worship hall, the Cogon Grass Ring is placed. Going through the ring is a type of purification ritual. So make sure you walk through the ring before you pray to Tagitsuhime no Mikoto.

The cogon grass ring can also help you chase away the bad luck you might be carrying.

Hōanden Hall (奉安殿)

In the octagon-shaped Hōanden Hall at the left of Hetsumiya, the Eight-arm Benzaiten that Minamoto no Yoritomo offered is enshrined. Together with another Benzaiten statue, the Myōon Benzaiten (妙音弁財天) in the photo, the two statues together are known as one of Japan’s Three Great Benzaiten.

© Fujisawa City Tourist Association
© Fujisawa City Tourist Association

Hōanden’s Opening Hours and Admission Fee

  • The worship hall is open from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.
  • The admission fee is
    • 200 yen for adults
    • 100 yen for junior and senior high school students
    • 50 yen for elementary school students

The Bounding Tree (Musubi no Ki, むすびの樹)

Next to Hōanden, a gigantic ginkgo tree is treated as an object of worship (already logged). Because the trunk split into two shares the same root, it resonates with the idea of marriage.

It is thus a popular spot to pray for a good life partner. The red Musubi-ema wooden plaques are hung by pilgrims seeking the tree’s help.


Zeniarai Dragon King (Zeniarai Hakuryūō, 銭洗白龍王)


Close to Hetsumiya, there is also a pond with a white dragon statue. The pond is called Zeniarai Pond (銭洗池), where pilgrims wash their money/coins. The white dragon king that looks after the pond is thus called Zeniarai.

It is said that if you wash your money here, more money will come your way. Different from “money laundry”, we trust that the money the dragon god might bring you is clean (´▽`*).

Nakatsumiya (中津宮)

Nakatsumiya is located further up from Hetsumiya, around a 5-minute walk/hike away.

The shrine was erected by Jigaku Daishi (慈覚大師) in 853 and renovated in 1996. The revered monk also founded Mt. Hiei’s Enryaku-ji Temple in Kyoto/Shiga Prefecture.

Nakatsumiya is also called Kami no Miya (上の宮) because it is situated further up Hetsumiya. It enshrines Ichikishimahime no Mikoto (市寸島比賣命), the second sister among the three siblings.

© Fujisawa City Tourist Association

If you want to be more good-looking, worship her as sincerely as possible. You can also purchase one of the beauty charms from the shrine’s office.

Nakatsumiya has been a shrine visited by many famous actors and actresses in the Edo period (1603 – 1867). The pair of stone lanterns on Nakatsumiya’s were offered by the Edo Kabuki Theaters, Ichimura-za (市村座) and Nakamura-za (中村座) in 1785. The handprints of a few famous Kabuki actors from the Edo period are displayed at the side of the approach.

☛ Remember to stop by the observation deck in Nakatsumiya Square (中津宮広場). The sea view from there is superb!
☛ From late winter to early spring, the plum and cherry blossoms will bloom along Nakatsumiya’s approach.

Water Fortune Slips (水みくじ)


Close to Nakatsumiya, you can experience drawing a water fortune slip. After paying 100 yen, you will be given a blank slip. While it might be confusing initially, your fortune will show up after you dip it into the water fountain (水琴窟) that has the water out of a dragon’s mouth!

If you are interested, the garden where the water fountain is located is open from 9 am to 4 pm.

Okutsumiya (奥津宮)

In addition to the Eight-arm Benzaiten, Minamoto no Yoritomo (源頼朝) the stone torii gate of Okutsumiya was offered in 1182.

The goddess Tagiribime no Mikoto (多紀理比賣命) is the eldest sister among her siblings and is enshrined here. Pilgrims come to her to ensure safe sailing.


In the past, seawater filled the Enoshima Iwaya Caves, which enshrined the object of worship of the Enoshima Shrine. So from April to October, the object of worship was temporarily relocated to Okutsumiya. This is why Okutsumiya was referred to as Hongū (本宮) until the Edo period.

© Fujisawa City Tourist Association

On the ceiling of Haiden Hall (拝殿), there is a turtle that stares at everyone. The turtle is called Happōnirami no kame (八方睨みの亀) because it seems to be keeping an eye on all directions. So no matter where you look at the turtle, it appears to be staring at you!

The turtle painting was painted by Sakai Hōitsu (酒井抱一) in 1803. In 1994, a replica was made so the original painting could be stored in the shrine’s office.

In fact, in Okutsumiya’s precinct, there are a couple more turtle statues. So if you have time, how about hunting all of them down?

From the Haiden Hall, you can see the Honden Hall (本殿), where the goddess is enshrined.

Dragon Palace (龍宮)

Next to Okutsumiya is another worship hall with a spectacular dragon statue placed above.

Established in 1993, the Wadatsumi no Miya (龍宮) is where Wadatsumi Daijin (龍宮大神) is enshrined. It is believed that the dragon god has been living here since Enoshima was formed.

It is said that because the shrine is located directly above the Enoshima Iwaya Caves, strong energy surrounds the shrine.


Dragon’s Love Bell (龍恋の鐘)

Hiking further up the staircases at the left of the end of the road from Okutsumiya, the Dragon’s Love Bell is placed above Enoshima Cave 2 at one of the best spots to adore Sagami Bay (相模湾). If you come with your partner, how about following suit and ringing the love bell to enhance your love for each other?

The Japanese are usually polite and don’t like to trouble others. So a camera stand was set up in front of the bell for couples to get a selfie without asking a favor of strangers.

At the back of the love bell, there are thousands of padlocks. The padlock is like a wedding ring. After ringing the bell, couples will lock the padlock together while vowing eternal love to each other. This is why one of the scenes of the Japanese movie, The Girl in the Sun (陽だまりの彼女), released in 2013, was taken here. This part of Enoshima is simply too romantic!

Important: Please only lock the padlock on the metal fence. Some people hung it on a nearby tree, which might break the branch with the padlock falling to the ground.

What Does Dragon Have to Do with Romantic Relationships?

According to the legend of Enoshima (refer to our Enoshima article for more details), the dragon in Sagami Bay in the 6th century fell in love with Benzaiten. The power of love transformed the dragon into a guardian god.

Enoshima Iwaya Caves (江の島岩屋)

After you have your fill at Dragon’s Love Bell, head back to Okutsumiya. From there, this time, follow the steep staircases down to Enoshima Iwaya Caves and Chigogafuchi Abyss.

© Fujisawa City Tourist Association

Remember the cave where Hōjō Tokimasa (北条時政) prayed for his family’s prosperity? The cave is located around a 10-minute walk away from Okutsumiya.

The Enoshima Iwaya Caves consist of two stone chambers and are said to be the origin of the Enoshima Shrine. The cave became a spiritual spot after Ennogyōsha (役の行者), the founder of Shugendō and Mt. Yoshino in Nara, meditated in the cave in 700.

After Ennogyōsha, many revered monks and famous Japanese leaders also prayed and/or meditated here. Kōbō Daishi (弘法大師), who founded Kōyasan (高野山), one of the Three Holiest Mountains in Japan, and Taichō (泰澄), who founded Mt. Haku (白山) in Ishikawa Prefecture are two good examples of the revered monks who were once trained in the cave.

In fact, Kinkizan Yogan-ji Temple that Enoshima Shrine was separated from was established by Kōbō Daishi in 814 after he meditated in the cave!

The Formation of Enoshima Iwaya Caves

It was determined that the caves were formed due to tidal erosion. The caves were then uplifted by repeated earthquakes and became the Enoshima Iwaya Caves that we can explore nowadays.

How to Get to Enoshima Iwaya Caves

There are three ways that you can get to Enoshima Iwaya Caves.

  • On foot. From the entrance of Enoshima, it will take around 30 – 40 minutes.
  • Take the boat, Benten-maru (べんてん丸), from the foot of Bentenbashi Bridge. The cost is
    • 400 yen for junior high school students and above
    • 200 yen for children from the age of 6
  • By taking the escalator and walking down the stairs

Entering Enoshima Iwaya Caves


Iwaya Bridge (岩屋橋) with red guard rails is the only way to get to the caves’ entrance. The magnificent ocean view from the bridge will most likely slow down your steps.

If you visit Enoshima in summer, you will soon stop sweating as soon as you enter the caves. Because of the low temperature, some might even need a light jacket.

In Cave 1, the staff will give you a free candle to make the exploration more adventurous.

Walking inside the Enoshima Kawaya Caves is similar to exploring a limestone cave. As you proceed further, the height of the cave will get lower, with the width becoming narrower.

Inside the caves, Ukiyo-e Enoshima paintings and items related to the island’s dragon legend are exhibited throughout.

Cave 1 is further divided into two sides. At the far back of the right side is the birthplace of Enoshima Shrine, which was the reason Emperor Kinmei (欽明天皇) ordered Enoshima Shrine to be built.

Following through the left passageway, you will get to the entrance that is said to be connected with the Narusawa Ice Cave (鳴沢氷穴), close to the Saiko Lake in Mt. Fuji!


As Cave 1 and Cave 2 aren’t connected, you will need to come out of Cave 1 to get to Cave 2. The bridge to Cave 2 is built along with the Chigogafuchi Abyss,

Following the staircases down the cave, a roaring sound seems to be coming out from the end of the cave. Although you don’t get a candle in Cave 2, a dragon lighting show will be on during your visit!

Chigogafuchi Abyss (稚児ヶ淵)

From the entrance/exit of Cave 2, there is a path down to Chigogafuchi Abyss. On a sunny day, you can see Mt. Fuji on the other side of the sea!

At the end of the abyss is where you can board the pleasure boat, Benten-maru, to get back to the entrance of the island, so you don’t need to hike all the way back up.


Chigogafuchi Abyss was created by the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake (関東大震災). It is now a popular fishing spot on Enoshima. At sunset, it is also where many photographers gather for some breathtaking photos.

Why is the Abyss Named Chigogafuchi?

© Fujisawa City Tourist Association

Once upon a time, a monk from Kenchō-ji Temple (建長寺) was on a pilgrimage trip to Enoshima. On the way back, he encountered and fell in love with a teenager from Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū (鶴岡八幡宮) that was trained to take part in the shrine’s festive procession. The monk tracked down the teenager and expressed his feeling. This has made the teenager worried and stressed.

In the end, the teenager jumped off the cliff here, and the monk followed and jumped off as well.

Why did the confession end in such a tragedy? It is probably because they were both males…

Where to Head to for Lunch?

Unfortunately, restaurants around Enoshima aren’t particularly vegetarian-friendly. So below, we have included a few options in Kamakura, which is just a few stations away.

Cafe Natudeco (ナチュデコ)

Natudeco is a vegetarian restaurant that turns fresh produces around the country into delicious meals. Located in a small alley off the main street leading to the Giant Buddha of Kamakura, the cafe has a peaceful atmosphere.

Cafe Natsudeco is particular about organic diets. If you have a chance to talk to the staff, you will be amazed by the amount of care being put into preparing every single dish that they serve to the customers. You will surely gain much more energy from the brown rice, the miso soup made with kombu seaweed and shiitake mushrooms, and the organic side dishes!

Just note they only cater to a vegan diet for lunch. If you are a vegetarian, you can also enjoy breakfast at Natudeco (remember to let them know to exclude eggs).

One con about Natudeco is the portion is small. So you might need to order more food to be full.

Natudeco’s Business Hours and Access Information

  • Breakfast is served from 8 am to 10:30 am.
  • Lunch is served from 10:30 am to 3 pm.
  • Natudeco is open until 8 pm, with the last order taken at 6:30 pm.
  • From Enoshima Electric Railway’s Hase Station (長谷駅), it is a 5-minute walk.
  • From JR Kamakura Station (鎌倉駅), it is a 20-minute walk.
  • If you are taking a bus, get off at Nagase Kanon (長谷観音). The cafe is just a 2-minute walk away.
  • From Enoshima Electric Railway’s Enoshima Station (江ノ島駅), it will take around 20 minutes, including walking time.

CAFE& BAR Magokoro (麻心)

Also in the Nagase area, CAFE & BAR Magokoro is a vegetarian/vegan-friendly restaurant that boasts superb beachfront views of Kamakura Yuigahama Beach (由比ガ浜).

The cozy restaurant’s menu is centered on hemp seeds and the macrobiotic diet. The menu is bilingual, so even if the English-speaking staff isn’t around during your visit, it will still be an easy task to order the food here.

The slight con about the cafe is the waiting time. The food is cooked to order, and the staff does take their time to prepare the food for you. So if you are in a hurry, it is probably better to dine somewhere.

Because Magokoro also serves meat/fish dishes, when you get there, let the staff know about your dietary requirements.

Magokoro’s Business Hours and Access Information

  • Magokoro is open from 11:30 am to 8 pm daily except Mondays.
    • If Monday is a public holiday, it will close on Tuesday instead.
  • The first floor is the cafe and bar area, and the restaurant is located on the second floor.
  • From Enoshima Electric Railway’s Hase Station (長谷駅), it is a 5-minute walk.
  • From JR Kamakura Station (鎌倉駅), it is a 20-minute walk.
  • If you are taking a bus, get off at Nagase Kanon (長谷観音). The cafe is a 7-minute walk away.
  • From Enoshima Electric Railway’s Enoshima Station (江ノ島駅), it will take around 20 minutes, including walking time.

Where Else to Go on Enoshima?

Click the photo to find out more information about Enoshima as a whole!

Enoshima isn’t just about Enoshima Shrine. There are a couple more attractions for you to stop by during your day trip.

Please refer to our article on Enoshima for more information, including cafes with stunning views!

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