Dragons in Enoshima

An illustration of the dragon legend of Enoshima

Japanese folklore tells a fantastic tale of how Enoshima rose from the ocean. The surrounding small fishing villages were plagued by violent storms and poor fishing seasons and such. The myth is that a five-headed dragon was responsible for the hardships in the surrounding area, and eventually the benevolent goddess Benzaiten came from above to soothe the dragon’s rage. Along with her coming, she raised a large landmass from the ocean to serve as her dwelling. The dragon, wooed by Benzaiten’s beauty and benevolence, fell in love with her, but she rejected his proposal as punishment for the adversity he had brought to the humble fishing communities. The dragon, in repentance, then became a dormant part of Enoshima island where it still remains today (an area called “Dragon Hill” on Enoshima.

A dragon fountain outside a shrine on Enoshima

You’ll encounter more than a few dragons in a day trip to Enoshima. Here, you are meant to wash your hands and mouth before visiting the shrine, where the larger dragon resides. The proper order for washing is:

Left hand, right hand, then wash your mouth with your left hand, then wash your left hand once more. And always place the ladle back face down..

A dragon resting on top of a shrine in Enoshima

This dragon here has 3 claws.The number of toes can be significant when speaking of dragons in a mythological sense. In general, Chinese dragons have 5 toes, Korean ones have 4, and Japanese ones have 3.

This is a Japanese shrine, so the fact that its defender is Japanese makes perfect sense I suppose. I don’t think they outsourced military around 1000 C.E!