Friday, July 15, 2011

Traveling: To Enoshima

Groups of Geisha Crossing the Spit of Land to Enoshima, Hiroshige, c. 1850
The boys had baseball all afternoon last Sunday, so it was just me and Papa at home... plus Cici, who decided she had a hankering to go the Aquarium at Enoshima.

Enoshima Island, off the Shonan Coast

So we hopped the train and went, since it's not too far from where we are (just change trains at Fujisawa and go three stops to the end of the line at Katase Enoshima, if you take the Odakyu Line instead of the Enoden).

Katase Enoshima Station

I love the Enoden (an adorable, tiny little train that goes squeeeeee right down the middle of the road and past people's windows... but more about that one another time;-), but I also love the train station at Katase Enoshima-- all green roof and upturned golden curlies on the corners.

...No trip would be complete, to be sure, without a couple of Harajuku girls for color (at least, their hair and shoes were colorful)...

The island is visible almost as soon as you walk out of the station--at low tide, it's connected to the mainland by a narrow spit of land (which is what Hiroshige painted in the print at top).  Naturally, there is a shrine on it-- the Toori of which you can see almost from the causeway before you set foot on the island proper.

On the causeway, looking toward Zushi
It was rather hot on Sunday (I wore strippy sandals, and my feet are now distinctly tiger-striped...o_O), and the bay was filled with colorful sailboats, jetskis, and the beaches were crowded.

No seagulls, though.  Weird, no?

鳶に、エサ を やらないで!

This is why there are no seagulls to be seen anywhere on the Shonan beaches or on Enoshima Island.

Tobi.  Black Kites.

Milvus migrans... I didn't think this shot would turn out!

This particular one was circling *very* low, just above one of the bridges.  The Kites have figured out what a good deal the seagulls had going, and have taken over the territory. 

They will swoop down and take food right out of your hand-- a friend of mine had her hand badly scratched by a Black Kite grabbing an onigiri she was eating from her hand.  The gulls have prudently moved up and down the coast, and ceded the area to the Tobi.  One is so accustomed to having gulls around at the beach, that it's slightly unnerving to have raptors circling overhead...

Still, it was a lovely day.

I love the view through the Toori gate, up the narrow street to the Benten Shrine.  If you squint, you can almost see that Hiroshige print right in front of you;-))

I love how the shrine is still surrounded, almost protectively, by trees.

There's another shrine in a cave around on the side of the island--probably the original shrine-- though the whole island is dedicated to the goddess Benzaiten (goddess of music and entertainment who is said to have caused Enoshima to rise from the ocean).

Mukashi, mukashi (once upon a time)...

...possibly around on this side (if you crop your photo right, the island still has that wild look in spite of the crowds).

Since it's right on the ocean, naturally the Fruits of the Sea are available in every market...

Freshly grilled Ika-on-a-stick (Cephalo-pops!)...

...and a variety of mussles to choose to have grilled on the spot or to bag up to take home.

Back on this side, the Enoshima (where Cici wanted to go) was completely refurbished several years ago and is now well worth looking into-- they have an enormous tank with a huge variety of fish that you can view from several levels...

me-me-kuchi (eye-eye-mouth)
...including a view nearly from "inside"a half-tunnel.  Very cool.  Cici and I both loved the rays-- the incredible grace with which they fly through the water... their funny face if you see one from below:-))

Rhina ancylostoma
We also loved the Bowmouth Guitarfish, whose Japanese name ends in "--zame", a reference to how similar they are to sharks.  They are, however, an unusual type of ray that gives the impression of being a creature halfway in-between a shark and a ray.

...and the Kurage (jellyfish).  Oh my, I could stand all day watching jellyfish dancing in the water...
I was a bad girl and didn't write down names of types of jellyfish...
And they had a whole corner dedicated to the research done by the Emperor.

Did you know that His Majesty Akihito (the Heisei Emperor) was also a Gentleman Scientist?  Neither did I! 

He's silver-haired now, but he still looks cute;-)
 Tenno-sama has actually done quite a lot of research and published several papers on the Gobiid fishes, which are endangered--in particular, the Mudskippers.  We watched the mudskippers skipping for quite a while--they are so funny to watch.  They are such obvious evidence for how fish like Tiktaalik came out to make a living on the land, using their pectoral fins as pseudo-legs.

Aren't they adorable?:-))  They are completely amphibious, breathe cutaneously (through the skin and the lining of the mouth and throat), and can flip themselves up to 2 feet into the air.  How cool is that?  His majesty has discovered and named several species that can be found around the Japanese islands.

You wanted to watch the Mudskippers... right?  Hai, dozo!

Mata asobou, ne!


  1. "They will swoop down and take food right out of your hand". Yes indeed - saw this happen on a visit to Mt Nokogiri on the Boso peninsula, where several kites were circling high above. Someone picnicking nearby held up a finger-sized potato crisp and a kite took it in full flight. They're big birds, and fast. I suppose, after a while, they would probably consider food in someone's hand as being theirs for the taking, which would explain what happened to your friend.

  2. That second photo of a kite just became my desktop wallpaper. What a great pic!

    Which reminds me, I keep meaning to link this for you. (Not a song, for once!)

  3. Roy-- I'm pretty sure that's *exactly* how the kites have become so bold. Probably when they first started hanging out on the beaches, they only took food that had been dropped... then people started throwing food to them on the ground... then, since they have the ability to dive and grab prey in mid-air, they just started taking food out of people's hands. I love to watch raptors, but it's still slightly weird on the beach...

  4. Daz-- thanks! Glad you liked that one! I myself was thrilled that it came out clear and roughly centered and not all blurry like most of my action shots (don't really have the right kind of camera or lens for those). He was flying just low enough that I thought, "Surely this time I can get *one* clear shot!" Yay! And you may, of course, use anything you like as wallpaper (*blushes*)

  5. I love watching raptors in flight, but I would be terrified to have one of them take something from my hand. I see plenty of hawks and eagles here, but I have never heard of a kite (I'm not up on my bird species). Now I have to go do some research and find out if we have any here.
    Oh, those Mudskippers are so cute! I just want to take them home and watch them hop around.

  6. that picture of the kite turned out amazingly! And i bet the aquarium was awesome. We're going to hit up the one we have here in MN (in the mall of america) in a few weeks. It's recently been zazzed up, so we'll see. It's really the only one we have, except for the ones at the zoos, but those are all stocked with local fishes. You can only see so many giant pikes and muskies before you get creeped out...