Photos by Takahiro Takiguchi
Photos by Takahiro Takiguchi

Stripes' Trip: Nostalgic over Enoshima

by Shoji Kudaka
Stripes Japan

Usually, it wouldn’t be odd to hear someone say, “I like the beaches of Enoshima.” But, when it comes from the mouth of an Okinawan, such a statement may require a bit of an explanation.

For many years, every time I listened to pop songs or watched music videos featuring beach scenes around Enoshima, I tried to imagine what this popular tourist spot would look like in real life. In early June, I finally had the opportunity to see for myself. From the many movies and TV shows filmed in Enoshima I’ve watched, I knew the colors of the sea are not as vibrant, nor its beaches as shining white, as those in my hometown in Okinawa.

As I crossed the Enoshima Bentenbashi Bridge and headed toward the island, I could see the waters in pale blue, presenting a different hue from the deep blue I see off Okinawa. Earlier that day, I’d surfed on that beach, but the pastel color of the sea from the bridge attracted me more than it did when I was in the water.

A visit to the island means a lot of uphill walk for tourists. From busy Benzaiten Nakamise-dori to paths which connect one shrine to another, I went on uphill slopes following other tourists. The first half hour of walking on an incline became a little daunting for an Okinawan like me used to driving to get anywhere.

Food stalls selling various snack foods like shirasu fish and other local seafood were a feast for the eyes, offering a welcome distraction from the climb. And, almost every time I stopped and looked back, that peaceful sea came into my view and the fatigue was forgotten.

Throughout our hike, the sea would peek at us – sometimes at the end of a road - like a calming source running through a busy street. Or, beyond a valley, which gave the impression of an island split in two, the waters of Sagami Bay seemed to greet me quietly. Instead of the vibrant tropical island blues, the islands surrounding waters were subtle, reminding me of serene coasts of Europe and inciting nostalgia.

The island itself is also a source for much nostalgia as its small alleys lined with old buildings housing confectionary stores and old inns, take on the look of scenes from old movies. Even the “Escar,” the retro-looking escalators and the island’s preferred method of scaling to the top, reminded me of the escalators from the department stores of my childhood.

These sights of Enoshima and, more than anything, its surrounding waters are what summoned many old memories and a strong yearning for the past. The lulls of the sea took me back to growing up in Okinawa and watching TV programs about the mainland, listening to my favorite pop songs about the very beach I surfed on and dreaming of a sea with colors different than those of my hometown. 

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