Arari is a small fishing village without any special tourist attraction. In addition to a fishing port Arari is is equipped with quays for shipping stones quarried from the mountain. The port facilities and large cargo ships form a stark contrast to the peaceful landscape of the rural village. The beach of Arari is not especially attractive for swimmers or divers as it is small and the narrow beach is guarded by a high sea wall.

All in all Arari is not especially appealing to tourists and as a result the appearance of the village is somewhat different from other villages along the western coast of Izu. In other words, Arari does not have a face made up for tourists. Arari just an ordinary village which might exist anywhere in Japan.

We, however, chose Arari for our one night stay, because Hohrai-ya ryokan (Japanese style hotel) is there.

In front of a confectionery shop in the evening

Horai-ya ryokan

Arari at 5 am
Hohrai-ya ryokan is a small old hotel in Arari which has only 6 guest rooms but 250 years tradition. The original building from the Meiji period (late 19th century) is well preserved. It's entrance section including wide steps leading to the upstairs, for instance, well reminds me of old hotels in samurai films.

What made me decide to stay here overnight was, however, another reason. Yukio Mishima, a famous writer, stayed in this hotel in 1960 and wrote a novel entitled "Kedamono no tawamure" (Play of beasts). Mishima was a rare genius in the post war Japanese literary world. His special attachment to the traditional Japanese beauty and machismo created much enthusiasm and hatred among Japanese. His inclination to the rightist thinking became gradually obvious. He finally undertook seppuku, traditional samurai style suicide, in 1970, after he rushed into the headquarters of the Self-Defence Force and agitated in vain the soldiers to rise. Mishima's literary activities are closely connected with the west coast of Izu.

Hohrai-ya hangs his photo on a wall. Some other famous artists such as late Junzaburo Ban and Hisaya Morishige seem to have stayed in this hotel. They left sepia colored photos and in particular Mr. Ban his beautiful handwriting.

I love to wake up early and take a walk, especially when I stay out of Tokyo. The entrance sliding doors of the hotel were closed, but not locked. So, I could easily slip out while the people were still sleeping.

At this season of the year, the morning dawns at about half past four. At five o'clock already many people especially old men and women are making their morning stroll. Some also take their dogs and others do their daily gymnastic exercises. Street lamps are still lit.

Another things which stand out in the half-lit village are drinks automats. They are indeed convenient. But, they also make the village definitely uglier.

There are many early birds in the village. The confectionery shop (see the photo above) was, to my surprise, already open at 5:30 am. Some older fishermen were already on their boats and started their work. An old woman was carrying milk bottles on a trailer and delivering them from house to house(photo right). A public bus came along the main road of the village, took a passenger and sounded its horn at 5:40 am.

In a small village we still find many wooden houses. Some are built according to traditional style. Others have a little bit more modern appearance with colorful wall. However, they are all open to the outside and their rooms are shielded from the eyes of curious tourists at most by reed screens. So, I could easily peep into the houses from alleys. In a house an old man sat on tatami mat and started his calligraphy training. In another house a middle aged man ... probably a fisherman ... lay on tatami and was reading newspaper.

Though Arari is a small village, there is a large four story community hall at the end of the village. Many shops including a supermarket, a branch of an agricultural cooperative bank and a boutique exist along the main road. Nevertheless, the village is quiet, because the bypass exists far away from the village center and there are few cars on the streets.

After about two hours stroll I went back to the hotel. The entrance was already open and the breakfast with grilled himono, seasoned nori (black seaweed dried as thin as paper) and hot miso soup was waiting for me :-)

An old woman delivering milk on a trailer

An alley