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Friday, June 11

Roving About Enoshima Island

If there is one thing the guide books miss telling you about Enoshima Island, it is that it is one helluva hike.  This is the exact sticking point that, even if I had known, I wouldn't have shared with Kimono Hubby.  Since the arrival of the Peanut and his ever growing size, he tends to avoid all day long outings in Japan that require him to carry said heavy burden up and down numerous flights of stairs.  He still likes to throw the Korean infiltration tunnel in my face whenever their is a discussion about hiking with KP at our sides.  But I wanted to visit all of Enoshima Island instead of the glimpses along the edge that I had previously partaken.

So a-hiking we all went. 

Starting off the stroller managed to go from the parking lot, up the tiny stretch of the main street and was sadly left behind at the foot of (God bless!) an escalator!  It took us up the fist stretch where we strolled around a temple and watched people do figure eights in and out of a circle.  I'm sure it has something to do with luck or health, but I didn't look it up.  We took in the view and then headed for the next stretch of escalators.  There were to be two more and we would be to the lighthouse on the top of the island.

Arriving at this level, we saw the botanical gardens' entrance in front of us, but being more interested in the lighthouse that looked as if it was somewhere in the distance behind the garden, we passed by it.  Only then did we discover that the next stairwell went down, down, down.  And then around.  Great vistas surrounding us, but on this hot and humid June day, we didn't quite care to stop and look at this point except perhaps to take a moment and catch our breath.  Our mission was solidly the lighthouse and the rest be damned.

After several more flights up and down, we realized that the lighthouse was either a figment of our imagination or just very far behind us.  We could only assume that the entrance had to have been inside the botanical garden.  Looking back at all those stairs up and down, up and down behind us though, there was no way we were going back.  Onward, we went.

But just where were we going?  We had consulted the map, but honestly not very closely.  If we had, we might have seen that there really was no wrap-around pathway on the island.  Those stairs up and down that we had been climbing, we would be climbing them again in our near future.

Where we did eventually end up was the very far end of the island.  I know the island is only 4 kilometers long, but when it is up and down and all around, that adds a whole lot of clicks to the total calculation.

The sad part of the walk on this particular day is that the big draw for dragging your cookies the whole way over to this far side of the island is to get this majestic, uninhibited view of Mt. Fuji.  Guess what?  Like 80% of the other days in Japan, it was too hazy to see Fuji-san.  For as large as the mountain is, she really does know how to hide herself away from the public eye.

As if all this tramping and climbing hadn't reminded KH enough about that tough day back in Korea, we came to the very end of the pathway which lead into two ancient caves.  Two caves of which you needed to bend down very low and not burn your dangling hair or the babe in your arms with the only source of light you had, a tiny candle, which was handed to you on the way in.  When it got to the hardcore ducking, KH and KP stayed behind while I continued deeper into the mountain.  I will add here that the signs about earthquakes and subsequent tsunamis as you walk along the rocky outposts in this area did make me a little more nervous as I was deep inside of this cavernous mountain.  A tip: If you take the hike in yourself, try not to think about this fact whilst meandering in the mountains deep, dark core.

Once out of the caves, we consulted with another map and began to come to grips with the fact that the reverse walk was going to be just as bad.  Our footwear choice for the day, flip-flops, was also bemoaned as we began the trek back.  And yet again, my breakfast of champions, my daily Diet Coke, was not enough to get me through this.  We aimed to, at least, get ourselves past the entrance to the botanical gardens before pausing for lunch, but at the peaks of one of the stairwells, Kimono Peanut began to dilly dally his walking efforts and perform his tired stance (the one where he stands on his head), we realized we would have to stop sooner rather than later.  The choices along this route were excellent had it been just the two adults.  Lost of fresh seafood shown in the ever-present plastic displays, but this would not work for a ever-more-picky toddler.  When we passed a soba and tempura place that overlooked the ocean, we jumped at the chance to get our kid some plain noodles.  It also helped that the place was not yet crowded so if he did have a meltdown, there were a whole lot less witnesses to it.  Meltdown, he did.  Eat, he did not.  The quickly eaten meal provided just enough energy for us to carry KP up and down and around those last stairwells.  Remember the escalators coming up?  How helpful they were in spurts?  Well, there ain't nothing like that going down except for the volition in your own two legs.  When we finally got back to the stroller, the sun, the heat and the sweat was quickly ending our day.  We never did stop at the lighthouse on the way back.  The first issue was that we still weren't sure how to get into it, but the second was that it looked like it was another 500 stairs to the top, and there wasn't a chance in hell I was going to convince either of the boys with me that we should climb to the top just to take in the view.

We had also read that one of the shrines on the island held one of the few naked sculptures in Japan.  She apparently is a shrine for praying for success in entertainment and many actors and actresses visit her for help in their own fame and fortune.  We visited each of the shrines, but I somehow missed her too.  Oh well.  I didn't plan on being in the entertainment industry anyway.  I'm not sure that either KH or KP would agree, but just the vast island roving we had done was enough to satisfy me.

Shopping in the bottom, main street area looked like fun, but with only a few weeks left here, I am realizing that there is really nothing left in which I really want to buy.  We snacked on what looked like some unassuming potato balls and rice cakes, only to realize that the island's specialty of those tiny white/silver fish with the big black eye on the end were the main ingredient.  You couldn't taste them really, but just seeing that black eye floating in the middle of the creamy cheese substance in the middle of the ball was a bit too much for me.  The flat cake-like thing was surprisingly even worse, more so because of the gummy texture than even teh black eyes staring up at you.

Also cooking in front of several locations were chefs hard at work on conch, clams, oysters and squid on the grill.  Kimono Hubby had learned his lesson on the conch a few weeks ago at the Marine Park, but he felt that the clams might be a safe bet.  He was wrong.  Again, he bought two thinking I would be having one, again after I had already told him I was set on getting apple-mango ice cream, so he ended up eating both big, chewy clams.  As I watched him, I swirled down an Enoshima beer, the perfect top off on this hot day.  Insisting that he had to remove the clam taste from his mouth, KH backtracked to get himself an ice cream cone.

We meandered the outskirts of the island a bit more, gazing out at the sea to watch the myriad of boats on the horizon.  A line of cars had snaked itself onto the island and now sat in the hot sun waiting for one of the limited parking spots to open up.  They probably sat there with the typical serene Japanese patience, but I felt guilty watching the line never grow any shorter.  On top of that, it was way past someone's naptime and he was showing signs of physical wear, so we headed back to our car and made our way off the island.  Of course, driving down Route 134 on a summer day is a test in patience all by itself.  It took us over an hour to get back, a second reminder of how glad we were that we headed to the island super early that morning.

And let me tell you, those guide books won't tell you about that traffic either.

1 comment:

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