Travel Japan

Kanagawa Prefecture – Shonan beaches and Chinatown

WashokuLovers

Located just south of Tokyo, Kanagawa Prefecture is a popular day trip destination and it’s only one hour from Shinjuku station! It’s home to the Shonan Fujisawa region which is popular for surfing, and a major attraction is Enoshima Island. Yokohama is the capital city, other popular locations are Hakone and Kamakura. Each city has specialties and good reasons to visit, so let’s go through a few:

Enoshima/Kamakura

Enoshima is a small island full of bath houses, temples, and restaurants. Crossing the bridge towards it feels like approaching the bath house island in Studio Ghibli’s Spirited Away, and it only gets better from there.

Benzaiten Nakamise Street is the main entrance to the island, lined with food stalls and souvenir shops. It can get pretty crowded, and there’s better food (and views!) further down the island, so we recommend only picking up a snack rather than filling up here. You can follow the path through Enoshima Shrine, up to the Sea Candle (lighthouse observation deck) and continue on to the far side of the island where cliffside restaurants are.

These restaurants usually have traditional seating and serve the local specialties: Enoshima-don and shirasu-don (whitebait rice bowl, pictured above). Considering it’s an island there is of course a lot of other seafood specialties, including giant crackers with whole octopus in them flattened to a paper thin cracker, but these two dishes will show you the essence of Enoshima.

Enoshima-don is made of egg and turban shells (which kind of taste like sweet fresh bamboo shoots) while the shirasu-don tastes very clearly of whitebait.

Yokohama

You really can’t go past ramen when you’re in Yokohama since it’s actually the home of ramen! Visit the Shin Yokohama Ramen Museum to try specialty bowls, which also come in half sizes so you can try more. The Yokohama go-to ramen (when at a restaurant) is a simple shoyu chicken broth with stir fried vegetables for toppings, locally known as samna-men.

You can also make your own instant ramen cup and decorate it at the Ramen Museum!

Yokohama actually has the biggest Chinatown in all of Japan, so you can get a lot of Chinese foods as well. While it may not be traditional washoku, but they all have Japanese influences. Shumai, a type of dumpling with prawn filling is quite popular, as is goma-dango, a rice cake ball with red bean filling and covered in sesame seeds.

Honorable mentions go to hayashi-beef (like curry rice but with a red wine sauce) and napolitan pasta, Japan’s take on tomato based pasta. For more adventure, there are a number of Michelin starred restaurants and Kirin Beer Village for a fun day of drinking.

Hakone

The biggest attraction for Hakone is actually hot springs but they also have food! First up is black eggs. These are regular eggs that are cooked in the hot springs and the eggs turn black due to the volcanic gas from the hot springs. These eggs are also considered to bring good luck, but if you eat more than 2.5 eggs it will bring you bad luck! Don’t be too scared, it’s only the shell that’s black, the rest of the egg stays its natural colour.

Also made using the water from the springs is local tofu which is said to have an extremely smooth and delicate texture. Always super healthy, Hakone tofu is easy to find at most restaurants and pretty cheap too!

Lastly, local Hakone beer. After getting out of the onsen and becoming super relaxed, you can top off the perfect bath with a glass of ice cold beer.

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