Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Once upon a time, there was an evil five headed dragon who terrorized people with violent storms and earthquakes. One of these quakes shook the seas and created the island of Enoshima. Shortly thereafter, the goddess Benzaiten appeared in the sky. Enamored with her great beauty, the dragon fell in love with her and asked her to marry him. She demurred, citing his bad behavior. Or so the story goes.
Today, Enoshima is a beach destination for the denizens of Tokyo, who flock to the area for the surrounding sand and surfer-chic cafés.
The island is also replete with temples, shrines ,and sightseeing spots, many dedicated to the goddess Benzaiten and her would-be suitor. Inspired by the dragon's love and the beauty of the island, many couples in recent years have been professing their own love here with a visit to Lovers' Hill.
Walk on to the island - there's only one land route. Travel along the road that rises straight in front of you, running the gauntlet of seafood and sweets vendors giving way to pretty shops and restaurants. Soon, you'll pass through a great torii, a gate marking the entrance to a temple or shrine. This is Enoshima Shrine.
A path branches off to the right. Follow this winding road up, up. On your way, check out the remarkable views across the water, and stop to nicker at one of the cats that wander the island. You'll soon start to pass a few locks fastened to the railing, attached by lovers in a rush to profess their affection.
You'll pass a temple festooned with the likeness of the fierce dragon. You may want to stop and pay your respects to the lovelorn monster.
Continue up the hill. The locks fastened to anything viable along the way will multiply until they reach a critical mass. You'll find yourself at the lovers' bell, looking out over the ocean.
Write your message of forever togetherness on your lock and cinch it tight amid all the others. Ring the bell to profess your devotion, seal it with a kiss.