Japanese police on Friday arrested a man who left a "haiku" poem when he disappeared after five people were murdered in a tiny mountain village.

Investigators found Kosei Homi, 63, dressed only in his underwear early Friday in mountains near the hamlet in western Yamaguchi prefecture, police and reports said.

The manhunt began on Sunday after officers found three corpses inside two burned-out houses. They subsequently uncovered two more bodies in separate homes.

The five victims, who all appeared to have been battered to death, were in their 70s or 80s, and represented a third of the population of the hamlet, local reports said.

Police had found a "haiku" poem stuck to the window of Homi's house.

The haiku is a traditional Japanese form, a three-line verse of 17 syllables in a five-seven-five arrangement. It customarily evokes natural phenomena and usually involves a reference to the seasons.

The haiku reads: "Setting a fire -- smoke gives delight -- to a country fellow."

Homi had a reputation in the village as a trouble-maker, reports said.

Investigators had found a mobile phone registered to Homi and a shirt and a pair of pants, believed to be his, in mountains nearby on Thursday, as they homed in on the fugitive, Jiji press said.

He was arrested on suspicion of the murder of one of the dead women. Investigations into the other deaths were ongoing, police said.