E is for Enoshima in today’s A to Z Challenge! Enoshima 江の島 is an island just to the west of Kamakura 鎌倉 in the prefecture of Kanagawa 神奈川県 in Japan. The island is connected to the mainland by a bridge, and hosts many tourist locations.
Several shrine buildings spread out over the island make up Enoshima Shrine and are dedicated to the goddess of fortune, wealth, music, and knowledge called Benten. Benten is believed to have created Enoshima before subduing a five headed dragon that had been terrorizing the area.
The main draw of Enoshima is, of course, the beaches. These beaches are close to Tokyo and therefore can get really crowded during the summer and holidays.
One interesting thing about the beach in Japan is that a large portion of the patrons do not wear swimsuits to the beach. On the contrary, a lot of people actually cover up! To understand this, you must understand the fact that Japanese people avoid the sun as much as possible. Japanese beauty ideals have a lot to do with light skin, and so particularly Japanese girls want to avoid exposure to the sun.
Sun damage can cause premature wrinkles, dark spots, and tanning can cause cancer, so it’s really a smart call to cover up. In the US, there is a lot of concern about skin cancer and sun damage, but it’s been a slow change since the 1970s when tanning was considered healthy and sun cream was not often used. At American beaches it’s still common for people to lie out for hours, and they probably don’t reapply sunscreen as often as possible.
If you are in the mood for beachside hot springs, the Enoshima Spa offers the traditional nude, gender-separated baths as well as mixed gender swimsuit-required pools. On days with good visibility the baths offer views of Mt Fuji.
Have you been to Enoshima’s beaches? What is your favorite beach getaway? Let me know in the comments!