Today, I journeyed to Kamakura and rode the Enoden railway to Enoshima… well, almost. I didn’t make it as far as Enoshima but I did walk in a black sand beach next to the Pacific Ocean, enjoyed the evening wind and surf as eagles soared overhead, and watched as a fiery orange sun set behind Enoshima and Mount Fuji in the distance…
Today’s plan is to see the giant Buddah at Kamakura, and ride the Enoden railway the full length from Kamakura to Enoshima Island and then Fujisawa. The view of Fujisan from Enoshima is spectacular and there are temples and shrines on Enoshima worth touring as well. Our journey begins at Etchujima station, the most direct route from Monzen Nakacho to the JR system.
We’ve arrived at Tokyo station, where we will take the Tokaido line South to Ofuna station. From Ofuna, we take the Enoden railway to Kamakura, the site of the large Amida Buddah. The train leaves promptly for Ofuna from platform #7 and offers a pleasant afternoon ride through Yokohama and passed many other JR rail lines. At one point, as many as four rail lines parallel each other so the view of other train lines wooshing by is interesting.
We’re ahead of the United States by 13 hours which means the results of the 2012 presidential election are known by now… at least by those who have data service on their phones… and I don’t. Similarly, most of Japan really doesn’t give a damn, as they don’t broadcast the news from every street corner like we do.
I’ll have to wait until tonight when I return to my apartment and an Internet connection to find out the results.
We arrive at Ofuna and this is an unexpectedly busy station, must be a hub for several lines. The train we want to Kamakura is downstairs on platform #5 and it’s only a short wait for the connecting train for Kamakura to arrive. Before we continue on to the Enoden railway we need to purchase one-day passes which allow us unlimited travel between Ofuna and Fujisawa as well as on the Enoden and monorail systems. Once at JR Kamakura station, it’s just a quick walk next door to the Enoden railway station and we can start our Enoden journey!
I board the Enoden amongst the gaggles of grade school children on field trips. The Enoden train itself is a charming throwback to the early 20th century, at least in style, these are still modern rolling stock. True to form, the train lurches and rattles and rumbles down the tracks at a snail’s pace with none of the efficiency of the modern JR trains. This reminds me of the old trolleys my mom used to ride in her home town, with their pantographs and overhead wires.
We arrive at a small town called “Hase” and walk about 500m to the temple where the statue of the Amida Buddha rests, contemplating nothingness. Now that’s a big Buddha but nothing compared to some others in Japan…
As soon as we arrive, small packs of grade school children descend on us and ask us questions like “Where are you from” and “What is your name.” Each of them is armed with a multi-language phrase book to help them ask each question in what approximates English. And this happens not once but three times, it’s very amusing. Obviously interaction with foreigners is part of their coursework. Pictures are taken and each group trots away with their multi-cultural duty accomplished.
We reboard the Enoden, bound for Enoshima and rumble down the tracks with the yellow rays of late afternoon sunlight streaming through the train cars until we stop at Shichirigahama town and station. Right out of the blue, Andrew suggests we get off at this station and I can tell something is up. We walk down the street towards an intersection with the main roadway that is adjacent to the seaside and suddenly… I recognize this road… its one of the beaches that we viewed on Google Maps when planning this trip.
And a gorgeous beach it is too, with the Pacific Ocean in front of me and a beach of black sand beneath my feet. Couples walk the beach hand in hand and cuddle in the sand while surfers rush into the water to catch a good wave. Dog owners congregate with their pooches of varying sizes and breeds. A pair of cute Japanese girls ask me to take their picture. Its a very happy crowd, eager to enjoy the surf and the last hours of the afternoon.
The sun is low in the sky and it’s “Magic Time” which means it’s time for video and photography, as well as sitting and enjoying the moment. The surf. The sand. The wind. The sun slowly descending behind the clouds, the last slivers of the sun’s disc and the magic of twilight disappearing into dusk.
Twilight turns to darkness as the stream of car headlights passes us on the amazingly busy ocean side road.
Surfers are now coming in to shore, cleaning their boards and packing up for the night. Others, just enjoy the evening in contemplation. Even at this hour there are photographers and videographers out capturing the moment. Shichirigahama resides just East of Enoshima and is perfectly aligned for sunset photography in the Fall. If this were the summer months, the sun would be setting nearer to Fujisan! In the morning hours the sunrise would illuminate Fujisan with a lovely morning glow.
The time has also come to hike back up to the Enoden Shichirigahama station and the remainder of the Enoden line, Fujisawa…
Fujisawa is actually a fairly large town, hosting the Enoden railway, an Odakyu station and store and a JR station. We decide to get some dinner and we find a dark, warm place full of wood and stone called “Wata Michi” in the basement of a building next door to the rail station. Here we enjoy meat dishes, tonkatsu and Izakya style meat on skewers. Those skewers were extra yummy too.
I order Hoppy and Shouchu, a traditional drink from the era of deprivation and my first time enjoying this combo! Although Hoppy has a rather skeezy back alleyway reputation, it’s actually a rather good drink, light and mild tasting but thanks to the Shouchu, high in alcoholic content…
Not an unreasonably expensive dinner but ya know, there’s always more to choose from and cheaper in the rail stations. I like rail station food too. If it wasn’t any good it wouldn’t be there for long because hungry commuters want to get fed, and get out quickly and with hearty, good food.
Our one-day Enoden passes see their last use as we enter the JR system and take the Fujisawa train to Ofuna.
At Ofuna we retrace our steps on the Tokaido Main line with the next train to Tokyo Station. I’m jazzed by the alcohol and enjoy riding the trains at night. I particularly enjoyed riding the Shinkansen at night during my Kyoto trip in 2007 and watching them blow by me on the platform!