The island of Enoshima in Sagami Bay, Kanagawa Prefecture as seen from the dunes on shore. A reach of sand stretching from the beach to the island can be seen to the left of the man with his back to the camera.
The tiny island with a circumference of just 4 km was connected to the mainland during low tide, but could only be reached by boat during high tide.
On the left of the island, the small island of Shotenjima can be seen. The Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 (Taisho 12) made land around the island rise so much that the two islands ended up being connected.
In the second half of the Edo Period, it became a very popular destination of pilgrims. Once nearby Yokohama was opened in 1859, an increasing number of foreigners started to visit as well, starting the island’s career as a tourist attraction. Many well-known foreign visitors of the time have left accounts of their visits. A particularly detailed one was written by Lafcadio Hearn1:
Unfortunately, the island’s increasing popularity probably helped to persuade the local people to build a bridge. Enoshima’s first bridge was built in 1897 (Meiji 30). People were levied 3 sen in tolls to cross and return. In 1930 (Showa 5), Kanagawa Prefecture took over the bridge and lowered the toll to 2 sen.
In 1949 (Showa 24), a new concrete bridge was built, the tolls were now 5 yen. This was changed to a ferro-concrete bridge in 1958 (Showa 33). In 1964 (Showa 39), the island was linked by a massive concrete bridge to accommodate modern traffic, accompanied by lots of development on the island itself. By then, all of Enoshima’s once enchanting charm was completely lost.
The beautiful dunes of this photograph have been completely erased by concrete buildings and asphalt roads, one of the countless victims of uncontrolled development.
1 Hearn, Lafcadio (1910). Glimpses of unfamiliar Japan. Bernhard Tauchnitz, 57-59.
Reference for Citations
Duits, Kjeld (). Enoshima 1890s: View from Katase, OLD PHOTOS of JAPAN. Retrieved on January 29, 2022 (GMT) from https://www.oldphotosjapan.com/photos/262/enoshima-katase
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