It looks like a train, but the Enoshima Electric Railway has the soul of the much-appreciated local tram it used to be. It runs from Fujisawa, 51 km (32 mi) southwest of Tokyo, to the popular seaside resort of Enoshima and on to Kamakura, once the capital of Japan and still the religious and historic hub of the Shonan region. The Railway has 15 stations on its 10 km (6 mi) length, with eclectic attractions in the vicinity of each, and there are special tourist tickets available to ensure you miss none of them.
Not even new rolling stock can disguise the Railways alter ego of Tram. It follows the original tramlines laid out before 1910, at slow speeds determined by the sharp curves between the older buildings. Only near Enoshima Station does it run along the street. Otherwise, its narrow-gauge track squeezes between the backs of residential blocks and houses, bursting free of the inelegant tangle of wires and backyard detritus that makes all train journeys fascinating to reveal a procession of sights of extraordinary variety and interest.
Most are partly visible from the train itself – like the unusual lighthouse at Enoshima Island, and some of the many shrines and temples for which Hase and Kamakura are famous. Flowers of every colour adorn everything (Meigetsun Temple is actually dedicated to hydrangeas), confirming the region’s reputation.
The Enoshima Electric Railway is a humble vehicle, but it takes you to some magical places. Get off at Hase for the 700-year-old brass Great Buddha at Kotoku-in Temple; or Kamakura, with 65 Buddhist temples, 19 Shinto Shrines, and historic buildings going back to the city’s foundation in 1192. Enoshima Island, a short walk away, offers amazing views of Mount Fuji in the distance, and a restful panorama of the beaches below. It’s a marvellous little train.