With a stunning coastline, historic sites and delicious food, Fujisawa, in Kanagawa Prefecture, is a delight for both explorers and those seeking to take it slow. And, at just about an hour from Shinjuku Station by the Odakyu Line, the city on Sagami Bay is a great day trip from central Tokyo. Here are some ideas of how you can spend your time there.
1. Ride the Enoden
Enoshima Electric Railway, or Enoden, runs from Fujisawa to Kamakura and is one of only three tram systems remaining in the Greater Tokyo Area. Try the one-day pass called Noriori-kun (¥600 for adults) for unlimited rides. At the ticket counter in Fujisawa Station, a sign outlines the station to alight at for the main tourist attractions and how long it takes to walk there from the station.
2. Enter a giant Buddha
A designated National Treasure and one of the most famous monuments in Japan, the Great Buddha of Kamakura is a towering sight, at 13.35 meters (44 ft) high. Enter the bronze structure through the door at its side for a peak at how it was constructed. Don’t miss the Buddha’s giant sandals in the nearby building, now almost hidden by construction. These sandals were made by children who wanted the Buddha to be able to travel anywhere in Japan and are replaced every three years.
3. Take time out at Hase Temple
Built on a mountain called Kannon-zan, this temple complex is a tranquil haven in the bustling seaside town of Hase. The sprawling gardens around the buildings are a nice place for a stroll — there are trees, shrubs and plants that flower year-round as well as ponds and waterfalls. The site is also home to the stunning black and gold Kannon-do Hall, which dates from 736, and hundreds of miniature jizo (small Buddha) statues, dedicated to children.
4. Explore Benten-kutsu Cave
Inside the Hase Temple lies a Benten-kutsu cave: a long winding series of low tunnels housing statues to Benzaiten, the sea goddess, carved out of the rock walls. In one chamber of the cave network, there are rows and rows of mini yellow statues. For a small donation, visitors can write their name and wish on one and leave it along with the others.
5. Eat like a local
At the beach towns along the coast, the feel is laid-back. Many cafes have pretty patios to eat alfresco or cosy interiors with views. If you want to bring your own lunch, head to the observation decks of Hase Temple and Enoshima, where there are seats and picnic tables. On Enoshima, also known as Cat Island, a themed lunch awaits at the Hello Kitty restaurant and café.
6. Shop ‘till you drop
Enoshima has an amazing selection of boutique shops selling everything from quirky beach and Hawaiian-themed goods to stylish bags, jewelry and clothing and so much more. What’s more, the artisan bakeries, coffee shops and cute cafes make resting between shopping easy and enjoyable.
7. Make a wish on Enoshima
Locals say that the entire island of Enoshima is like a shrine: a torii gate marks the boundary between it and the bridge connecting it to the mainland. Take the path from the gate, up the steep staircases to Enoshima Shrine, the home of Benzaiten, the goddess of music and entertainment. Wash your money in a basket at the shrine’s pond to wish for wealth, pass through a bamboo ring for safety and leave a message on a pink board for love.
8. Try the local treats
As a thriving tomato growing area, Fujisawa has its own line of tomato-flavored treats designed to make tasters “fall in love with tomato.” At 10 outlets across the city, visitors can enjoy tomato cake and pudding. Meanwhile, Enoshima is famous for the freshest shirasu (whitebait) and tako senbei (octopus rice crackers), which are perfect as a savory snack. The island also boasts dozens of rare ice cream varieties, including whitebait, jellyfish and seaweed.
9. Check out the views
On a clear day, head to the observation deck on the ninth floor of Fujisawa City Hall for views of Mount Fuji. The sacred peak can also be seen from Enoshima, where the vistas of seascapes and the coastline will also not disappoint. And, the view of Sagami Bay from the observation deck of Hase Temple (pictured above) is recognized as one of the most picturesque in Kamakura.
10. Hit the coast
Sandy beaches that are popular for surfing, swimming and beach sports line the coast on either side of Enoshima and along much of Fujisawa’s coast. Meanwhile, for stunning coastal views, visit the southern coast of Enoshima to see rocky cliff faces, sea spray and panoramas of the Kanagawa coastline and views of the sunset.
For people who prefer organized travel, Ellista Local Tours runs regular one-day English-language guided tours to Fujisawa (Enoshima and Kamakura) for ¥12,000 per person (children under 6 go free). Fee includes one-day free pass transportation within Fujisawa, Enoshima and Kamakura, lunch, snacks and a ticket to the Enoshima Iwaya Cave. Make your reservation at least two days in advance. For more information, or to book, see here. Ellista also offers other tours in Tokyo and Kanagawa.© Japan Today