Ryuko-ji Temple

This temple is built on the site of the former Tatsunokuchi Execution Ground in Kanagawa Prefecture. The 5-storey pagoda, which is the only orthodox wooden building of its type in the prefecture, as well as the temple’s main building, are both regarded as amongst the top 100 pieces of architecture in Kanagawa.

At approximately 2AM on the morning of September 13th 1271, Nichiren (*1), an outspoken critic of the Kamakura Shogunate, was brought to Tatsunokuchi (*2) Execution Ground, and was just seconds away from execution. Just at that crucial moment, a large bright light resembling the full moon appeared in the skies above Enoshima, blinding the executioners and saving Nichiren’s life. Of all the perpetrators consigned to Tatsunokuchi, Nichiren was the only survivor, making this apparent piece of divine intervention very special. This has since become known as “The Tatsunokuchi Persecution”. After Nichiren (1222 – 1282) died, his follower, a man named Nippo, built a sacred site in 1337 to the Tatsunokuchi Persecution, and inside this building he enshrined a statue that he had made of Nichiren, as well as the stone (*3) execution seat used in Nichiren’s halted execution. This building was the beginning of Jakko-san Ryuko-ji Temple.

*1. Nichiren was a Buddhist monk during the Kamakura Period. He was the founder of the Nichiren (or Hokke) Sect of Kamakura Buddhism.
*2. At the time, Tatsunokuchi was an execution ground where perpetrators were brought and beheaded.
*3. A cushion-shaped stone covered in animal skin that was used as a seat during executions.

The 5-storey pagoda, which is the only orthodox wooden building of its type in the prefecture, as well as the temple’s main building, are both regarded as amongst the top 100 pieces of architecture in Kanagawa.


Iwaya Caves, Ryuren no Kane and Benten Maru

From the Iwaya Caves carved by aeons of tidal erosion, to the romantic spiritual site of Ryuren no Kane (The Bell of the Dragon’s Love), there are many attractions to see on Enoshima.

Iwaya Caves

Carved by aeons of tidal erosion, the Iwaya Caves consist of two caves which are 152 meters and 56 meters deep respectively. These caves have long been the subject of religious faith, and during the Edo Period, many worshippers gathered here as a sacred site of the Benzaiten faith. Today, the caves are a popular tourist spot. From the exhibits on display here, visitors can get a sense of how Enoshima’s history and culture have developed over the centuries.

The caves are divided into Cave 1 and Cave 2, with Cave 1 being further divided into Left-hand Side and Right-hand Side. Some say that the deepest point of the left-hand cave leads to the “Narusawa Ice Cave” on Mt. Fuji. At the back of the right-hand cave is the birthplace of Enoshima Shrine.

It is said that in the past, during a visit to the caves, Benzaiten appeared to the Buddhist monk Kobo Daishi (also known as Kukai), and that also Minamoto no Yoritomo came here to pray for victory in battle. Today, the caves are known as the number one spiritual site on Enoshima. Donated by pilgrims, the stone statues on display inside the caves are now considered important parts of Enoshima’s historical and ethnological cultural heritage.

Guide to the visit:
Candles are offered for free at Cave 1. Holding a candle in one hand, visitors can enjoy exploring the caves by candle light.

Admission Fee:
Adults (13 yrs old and older) 500
Children (7-12 yrs old) ¥200

Ryuren no Kane (Dragon’s Love Bell)

In honor of “The Legend of the Goddess and the 5-Headed Dragon” introduced on the “About Fujisawa” page, this bell was built in 1996. It is said that couples who ring the bell, and then attach a padlock bearing their names to the nearby wire fence, will enjoy eternal love. The bell has also been used as a filming location for movies.


This is a pleasure cruise running from the foot of Bentenbashi Bridge to the Chigogafuchi Abyss. During the 10 minute ocean cruise, passengers can get great views of Enoshima, and on clear days, Mt. Fuji. The boat is convenient for visitors heading to Enoshima Iwaya. Departures are irregular, and so visitors are asked to confirm departure times on the day.

Adults (13 yrs and over) ¥400
Children (6 yrs and over) ¥200

Official Website


Enoshima Shrine

Enoshima Shrine was first built at Iwaya in 552 upon the imperial order of Emperor Kinmei. Today, three shrines called Hetsumiya, Nakatsumiya, and Okutsumiya, are collectively known as Enoshima Shrine, a name which it has held since the Shinto-Buddhism syncretism during the Meiji Period.

Bronze Torii Gate

This bronze torii gate is located just over Enoshima Bentenbashi Bridge. Originally made of wood, the gate was rebuilt in bronze in 1821, and the names of the financial donors who helped pay for it are carved on the gate. The gate is a designated cultural property of Fujisawa City.

Benzaiten Nakamise Street

From this bronze torii gate, a street stretches as far as the vermilion-lacquered gate in front of Zuishinmon, and passes through an area known as Monzen-machi (Temple Town). The street is lined with traditional Japanese inns, souvenir shops, and restaurants. This street is called Benzaiten Nakamise Street.

Enoshima Shrine Gatehouse

This gatehouse is named Zuishinmon, and is modelled on the mythical Ryugu-jo (castle under the sea depicted in the Japanese tale “Urashima Taro”). Zuishinmon can be taken to mean “pure soul”, and it was named as such in the hope that visitors could refresh their minds by praying here.

Hoanden (Octagonal Hall of Statues)

Situated next to Hetsunomiya Shrine, Hoanden is modelled on the Yumedono (Hall of Dreams) of Horyu-ji Temple in Nara. It is said that Minamoto no Yoritomo donated the statue of Happi-Benzaiten in 1182, with the statue of Myoon-Benzaiten (Hadaka, or Naked Benzaiten) being donated later during the Edo Period.

Note: The renovations that were taking place were completed on October 24th. 2015

Admission Times: 8:30 to 16:30
Admission Fee:
Adults ¥200 / 13-18 yrs ¥100 / Under 13 yrs ¥50


Myoon-Benzaiten is popularly known as “Hadaka-Benzaiten”, or “Naked Benzaiten” in English.
The statue expresses feminine symbolism and is believed to have been made during the Kamakura Period. This distinctive style of nude sculpture is characteristic of the Kamakura Period, and Naked Benzaiten is known as a God of artistry, music, and wisdom.

Who is Benzaiten?
Together with the shrines on Miyajima (Hiroshima Prefecture), and Chikubushima (Shiga Prefecture), Enoshima is known as one the three most famous shrines to Benzaiten in Japan. Benzaiten was originally an Indian God of Water, and it is believed that the Benzaiten faith in Japan began during the Nara Period.

Happi-Benzaiten (Colored Wooden Benzaiten Statue)

With an effigy of Ugajin (God of harvest and fertility) above her head, Happi-Benzaiten holds a bow, arrow, sword, precious stone, wheel, spear, pestle, and key in her eight arms. This is the oldest statue of Happi-Benzaiten. She is known as a God of good fortune, wealth, and war.

Derived from “The Legend of the Three Scales”, the Enoshima Shrine crest depicts three scales surrounded by oncoming waves.
According to “Taiheiki” (the epic Japanese historical literary work), in the year 1190, Tokimasa Hojo, who was leader of the Kamakura Shogunate, *confined himself to the caves at Iwaya for a period of prayer for the prosperity of his children. On the final night of his prayers, Benzaiten appeared before him. Promising to fulfill Tokimasa’s wishes, Benzaiten transformed into a snake and then disappeared into the sea, leaving behind three scales, which since then became the symbol of his family.* A period of time where one retires to a shrine or temple for prayer.