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Romancing Kanagawa: 3 Memorable dating spots in the south of Tokyo

Romancing Kanagawa: 3 Memorable dating spots in the south of Tokyo

Hi everyone! I am Wanping Aw, and have been residing in Japan for the past 13 years. Despite living in  Tokyo for the past 10 years, I have worked and lived in Kanagawa Prefecture (神奈川県 Kanagawa-ken) for a while, and so, I’m excited to share about several romantic and fun spots that you could visit with your romantic partner, friends, or family.


Hakkeijima Sea Paradise

(Image credit: Kanagawa Prefectural Government)


Hakkeijima Sea Paradise (八景島シーパラダイス) is an amusement park located on a small island approximately 30 minutes by train from Yokohama City (横浜市 Yokohama-shi). It is one of the most visited amusement parks in Japan and houses a very beautiful 3-storey high aquarium which has been featured in many Japanese dramas. I was inspired to visit this aquarium after watching “1 Litre of Tears” (1リットルの涙 Ichi Rittoru no Namida), a popular tearjerker drama that was released in 2005.


(Image credit: Kanagawa Prefectural Government)


Admission into the park is free. Visitors may freely enter the island to utilise its park areas, stroll along the promenades, shop at the stores or dine at the restaurants. An entry fee is only required if you enter the Aqua Resorts or get on the rides of Pleasure Land (プレジャーランド). 


Aqua Resorts consists of the Aqua Museum (アクアミュージアム), Dolphin Fantasy (ドルフィンファンタジー) Fureai Lagoon (ふれあいラグーン). Aqua Museum is a conventional aquarium where visitors are able to view walruses, dolphins, sea lions, seals, giant turtles, sea otters and many other sea creatures. Dolphin Fantasy is a separate building next to the Aqua Museum featuring a big arch-shaped pool surrounding a tunnel. Visitors can walk through the tunnel and observe the dolphins, stingrays and other fish swimming in the pool around them. I have visited many different zoos in Japan, and nothing beats the “walking through the tunnel” concept—the experience is as though you are moving along with the animals, rather than just watching them from a distance. 


Celebrating New Years Day with the penguin at the Fureai Lagoon. (Image credit: Wanping)


The Fureai Lagoon is another aquarium complex where visitors can interact and touch some of the sea animals. For ​​an additional fee, guided tours with greater interaction with the animal and souvenir picture taking can be arranged. I love Hakkeijima Sea Paradise, and have visited in all seasons, and the penguins which you can take pictures with are often dressed in costumes to suit the respective festive season. I don’t often purchase paid-photos, but the penguin dressed in the red scarf to commemorate the Japanese New Year (1–3 January) was too cute to resist. 


The exciting roller coaster at Hakkeijima Sea Paradise that goes over the sea. (Image credit: photoAC


Pleasure Land is the section of the park with amusement rides for all ages. There is an exciting roller coaster that includes a loop over the sea; and also a Merry-go-round, and a large carousel which becomes especially charming when the illuminations come on in the evenings. I am not a big fan of amusement park rides as they really do scare me, but the views here are remarkable! I’ve always wanted to take a photo with the illuminated Merry-go-round at the end of the day, but I always end up going home due to exhaustion—hopefully next time!


Hakkejima Sea Paradise (八景島シーパラダイス)
Address: Hakkeijima, Kanazawa-ku, Yokohama, 236-0006 
Nearest station: Hakkeijima Station (八景島駅)
Access: 1-minute walk from station
Admission: ¥3,000 (Aqua Resorts)
Admission fee (unlimited rides at Pleasure Land): ¥3,100
Admission fee (Aqua Resorts and unlimited rides at Pleasure Land, March to November): ¥5,200
Admission fee (Aqua Resorts and unlimited rides at Pleasure Land, December to February): ¥4,700
*You can opt to pay ¥300–¥1,000 per individual ride at Pleasure Land
Tel: +81  45-788-8888


Sagamiko Illumillion 

(Image credit: Kanagawa Prefectural Government)

As it gets dark really early in winter, one of the fun things to do at night during autumn is to enjoy the winter illuminations. One of my first winter illuminations was the Sagamiko Illumillion. This winter illumination event “Sagamiko Illumillion (さがみ湖イルミリオン) ” is held annually at Sagamiko Resort Pleasure Forest in Sagamihara City, Kanagawa Prefecture since 2008. This is one of the biggest winter illuminations in Japan, using approximately 6 million colourful LED lights. Since 2018,  it’s been considered as one of Kanto Region’s three greatest winter illuminations, along with Ashikaga Flower Park and Enoshima Jewel of Shonan.


(Image credit: Kanagawa Prefectural Government)


I was really excited to visit it, and can still remember how impressed I was when I got on a ski lift-like thing and rode up a hill covered with sparkling illuminations. Maybe it’s due to the fact that I grew up in a tropical country, but just the dry winter weather and the smell of the dry winter wood, the upbeat music, and the beautiful illumination all around, made the entire experience magical.


Notice how the background changes depending on the part of the park I am at? (Image credit: Wanping)


One will ride up a beautiful hill and enjoy the view of the entire park’s illumination and then walk down slowly to enjoy a relaxing evening. Unfortunately, due to my fear of heights and being way too preoccupied with taking in the beautiful view under me, I do not have any photos taken from the ski-lift. But I do have these two photos of me looking very pleased with the illumination.  


Sagamiko Illumillion (さがみ湖イルミリオン)
Address: Sagami Lake Resort Pleasure Forest 1634, Wakayanagi, Midori-ku Sagamihara-shi, Kanagawa 252-0175 
Nearest station: Sagamiko Station (相模湖駅)
Access: Take the Kanachu Bus from Sagamiko Station and get off at Pleasure Forest Mae Stop (プレジャーフォレスト前)
Admission fee (Entry only): ¥1,000
Admission fee (Entry and free pass for attractions): ¥2,500
Tel: +81 ​​570-037-353 


Enoshima Shrine: Enoshima’s God of Jealousy?

(Image credit: Kanagawa Prefectural Government)


Now that I have shared 2 romantic spots to go on a date in Kanagawa, there is also something that I must mention about Enoshima (江の島).  It is a small island located in south Kanagawa Prefecture in the city of Fujisawa (藤沢市 Fujisawa-shi). On a good clear weather day, you can enjoy a beautiful view of Mount Fuji and the Sagami Bay (相模湾 Sagami-wan). Enoshima is popular amongst Japanese couples and foreigners alike, but have you all heard of the urban legend that couples that visit Enoshima break up? 


The majestic torii-gates at Enoshima Shrine. (Image credit: photoAC)


The goddess of Enoshima Shrine (江ノ島神社 Enoshima-jinja), Benzaiten (弁財天), is the only female of the seven Gods of Fortune in Japan. There are the Three Great Shrines of Benzaiten (日本三大弁天) are a group of Japanese shrines dedicated to the worship of the goddess Benzaiten. The three shrines are Daigan-ji Temple/Itsukushima Shrine in Hiroshima Prefecture; Enoshima Shrine in Kanagawa Prefecture; and Hogon-ji Temple/Tsukubusuma Shrine in Shiga Prefecture. Benzaiten is regarded as a protector of Enoshima as according to myths, the goddess defeated a five-headed dragon and, along with that, caused the island of Enoshima to rise. Despite being the local heroine, Benzaiten is known to be an extremely jealous deity and when she sees a happy couple, she gets angry and tries to break them up. I have NO photos of Enoshima because I have yet to muster the courage to test if this urban legend is true or not! 


Enoshima Shrine (江島神社)
Address: 2-3-8, Enoshima, Fujisawa-shi, Kanagawa 251-0036
Nearest stations: 

  • Enoden: Enoshima Station (江ノ島駅)
  • Odakyu Railways: Katase Enoshima Station (片瀬江ノ島駅)
  • Shonan Monorail: Shonan Enoshima Station (湘南江の島駅)

Access: About 15-20 mins walk depending on the station
Admission: Free (¥200 to see the statue of Benzaiten)


All in all, Kanagawa Prefecture is really a lovely place to enjoy with not only your romantic partner, but also friends and family. I am sure the cute sea animals at Hakkeijima Sea Paradise, the sparkling LED lights at the Sagamiko Illumillion and even the strict Benzaiten would be there to bless you and cheer you on with happiness in all relationships.


Travel to your heart’s content over the Valentine’s Day weekend with the 3-day JR TOKYO Wide Pass! At ¥10,180, it extensively covers not only the cost of a roundtrip shinkansen ride between Tokyo Station and Karuizawa Station (~¥11,640) on Day 1, but also your multiple rides in to and fro Tokyo, Izu, and Fujisawa on Day 2 and Day 3. If you’re looking to extend your 3-day V-date to a 5-day one, consider upgrading to the JR EAST PASS (Nagano, Niigata area) to explore beyond Tokyo. While these railway passes are available all-year round, it wouldn't come as a surprise if you fell head over heels for them instead during the season of love. Happy Valentine’s!


Whether you're heading to Japan in time for Valentine's Day or not, giving your partner a gift is always a romantic activity no matter the occassion. This February, JAPAN RAIL CLUB has a Valentine-themed snack box "With Love, Izu" which includes chocolatey treats as well as selected snacks from the neighbouring Izu Peninsula—accessible just about 2 hours away from Tokyo with the JR TOKYO Wide Pass!


Header image credit: Kanagawa Prefectural Government


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