Summer has come!!!

Road station, summer festival and chorus of cicada

Summer has come, as if somebody planned it to coincide with three consecutive holidays linked to Marine Day (17, 18 and 19 of July). This year, the change from the rainy season to summer is distinct in contrast to the last year, where we had a prolonged rainy season and lot of rain and low temperature even in August. Therefore, I feel the tropical temperature of 33 or 34C all the more pleasant to my skin, provided that I do not have to work in business suits. In order not to miss the summer, I went to Izu during the Marine Day holidays.

As I got to know that Sayang opened a new restaurant in Ito Marine Town, I decided to take lunch there. Ito Marine Town is a "road station" opened between the Ito beach and the national road 135 in 2001. Road station is a sort of service area, however not located on an expressway but to an ordinary local road, so that it can give travelers the possibility to take rest and buy local specialties and at the same time give local people the chance to disseminate their information and promote cooperation among them. There are now nearly 1000 road stations all over Japan and the number is still increasing. The idea of road station, which originates from the Ministry of Construction (*), is really excellent and this is a good evidence that there are capable bureaucrats, though bureaucrats are nowadays harshly criticized by politicians and made scapegoats for all existing problems to attract votes from innocent population.
Now integrated into the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT).
Because of the gaudy and cheap pseudo-European exterior of Ito Marine Town, I am not fond of visiting it. However, its shops offer a wide variety of fishery and agricultural specialties and its restaurants treat guests with delicious Japanese and world foods at reasonable prices. Therefore, Marine Town is always filled with visitors. A marina is attached to the road station and there is also a harbor for excursion boats. It seems to me that Marine Town is now organically integrated into the tourism promotion system of Ito.

I personally appreciate it that there is a sea-side spa which is open to everybody. The only problem of the spa is that it does not have a good ocean view despite of its closeness to the sea, as the view from the spa is limited by fences. I presume the fences are needed because the spa is neighbored to public space and has to hide bathing people from onlookers. If we want to enjoy the view, we should better use "ashi-yu" (foot bath) which exists between the building and the marina and free of charge. It is not bad to buy a glass of local beer from the nearby pub, sit on a bench with your feet in the warm spa water and enjoy the splendid ocean view.

Shops of local specialties

Road station "Ito Marine Town" seen from the parking

Foot bath
On the next day, I went to the public bath of Wada. Wada was the center of Ito thermal bath already during the feudal time and it delivered in 1650 hot spring water to Edo (present Tokyo) for the treatment of the ailing third Shogun Iemitsu. When I approached the bathhouse, I noticed festival floats on the street. The day when I was there happened to be the third day of the summer festival of the local community.

The summer festival is organized by two city districts Kusumi (Wada is a part of Kusumi) and Arai. Obviously first festival floats were constructed in the 1820s now all 10 communities of Kusumi and three of Arai have their own float and they participate in the parade on the last day of the summer festival. Floats are drawn to Arai Shrine and back to their own communities. On the previous day a ceremony to commemorate the delivery of spa water to Edo was conducted, but unfortunately I did not know it.

The public bath of Wada has a nick name "Bath of Jurojin" (God of Longevity). The building was newly constructed, but bathing guests are mostly as senior as Jurojin. Local senior people pay only 70 yen (0.7 US dollar) for entry, while visitors like me pay as much as 300 yen (3 US dollar) !

Festival floats

The highest air temperature in Kanto Region is often recorded in Gumma or Saitama prefecture, which is distant from the sea. The temperature rises there often a few or several degrees higher than in Tokyo in summertime. On the contrary, the temperature on the coast of Izu Peninsula is generally a few degrees lower than in Tokyo thanks to the cooling effect of ocean water. Nevertheless, it is much cooler on the Amagi Mountains, where the highest temperature does not usually reach 30 degree and it often drops below 20 degree at night. Therefore, it is especially comfortable to be up on the mountains in summer.

Around the end of July and the beginning of August, we can hear a chorus of higurashi cicada (Tanna japonensis). The name "higurashi" means "day closer" and it might comes from the habit of the cicadas to shrill in concert in particular at dusk.

Up on the mountains air is cool and pure.

Chorus of hiugrashi cicada
Higurashi cicada