Where to see fireflies in Japan

Although the Japanese summer has a well-deserved reputation for being hot, we always say that it is full of options to make your trip unique. Thus, if you travel to Japan at this time, especially during the month of June, you can enjoy a unique spectacle of nature: see fireflies in japan.

calls hotaru (蛍 or ほたる) in Japanese, fireflies are a twinkling charm on hot, humid June nights. And although the population of this type of beetle has been declining over the years, in Japan there are still several places to enjoy this wonderful natural spectacle... even in the heart of Tokyo!

The month of June is the ideal time to see fireflies in Japan
The month of June is the ideal time to see fireflies in Japan

Fireflies glow in the dark from sunset until approximately 9:00 p.m. And they commonly appear in humid and warm places, where there are natural sources of pure and crystalline water.

So if you are going to travel in June, do not stress thinking about the tsuyu and the rains. Look on the bright side and think that if you are lucky, you might be able to enjoy the fireflies. It is a wonderful show!


Types of Japanese Fireflies

There are about 45 different varieties of fireflies in Japan, although only 14 have the ability to glow in the dark. Among them, the most popular are those of the Genji, Heike and Hime varieties.

If you go to any of the places that we recommend to see fireflies, do not use flashlights or take flash photos.

Genji fireflies live in streams and are larger, while Heike fireflies live in rice fields or places with stagnant water and are smaller. Both use their luminescence to mate and get their name from the two rival clan factions that fought in the Genpei Wars. These wars were the ones that ended the Heian period and began the first shogunate Kamakura and the time of the samurai..

Hime fireflies, on the other hand, are usually found in forests and emit a weaker, more orange light, flying closer to the ground than Genji or Heike.

Maiko with map Japanism

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Recommendations to see fireflies in Japan

The vast majority of firefly watching festivals are organized in the month of June And they usually last a couple of weeks. In many cases, fireflies are released expressly for the celebration of the festival, which is why its duration is so short. In those places where fireflies live in their natural habitat, the observation can last a few more days.

The best places to see them are large parks, rice fields, streams, and rural areas, where there is not as much light pollution. They usually appear around 7:00 p.m., although the best time to see them is around 8:00 p.m..

Of course, if you go to any of the places that we recommend to see fireflies, do not use flashlights or take flash photography. And be careful of the light on your mobile phone screen when it turns on. He thinks that any light not only bothers them, but also disorients them. Take care of your environment so that we can all continue to enjoy the hotaru-gari or see fireflies in Japan.

Fireflies always fly near streams or water sources
Fireflies always fly near streams or water sources

Where to see fireflies in Tokyo

While it is difficult to see fireflies in the center of cities, where light pollution makes them difficult to observe, it is possible to see them in various places in Tokyo, both in the city center and in the surrounding area and surrounding prefectures.

In the heart of Tokyo we recommend the following places:

  • Hotel Chinzanso: In the traditional garden of this hotel in the heart of Tokyo, about 600 fireflies of various species are released. From mid-May to the end of June, the garden is illuminated in a special way and a wonderful viewing event is organized (although you must buy ticket)

And west of Tokyo you have:

  • hotaru park: With its name (literally, "firefly park"), this park already says it all. Located near the city of Ome, during the month of June the park organizes a firefly festival, with food stalls and events of all kinds.
  • seichi park: Within the Yomiuriland amusement park, half an hour by train from central Tokyo, this park organizes theme nights on weekends in June to watch the fireflies.
  • Kugayama Hotaru Matsuri: Southeast of Kichijoji and the Ghibli museum, this festival is organized, with food stalls and special events, to observe the fireflies in the heart of Tokyo
  • Osawa no Satō (Mitaka): Southwest of Kichijoji and the Ghibli museum is this natural space full of fireflies. Walking through its catwalks at sunset is an incredible spectacle.
  • Yukake Kotake Fueai Village: In the Hachioji area, you will enjoy the twinkling spectacle of fireflies among the trees, especially at the end of June.

Also, other interesting places in nearby prefectures are:

  • Narita Farm Land (Chiba): During the nights of the month of June you can see here a lot of fireflies of several different species. However, take a look at Narita Farm Land calendar to confirm dates and make your reservation.
  • Tsukiyono Hotaru no Sato (Gunma): From mid-June to mid-July, hundreds of fireflies can be seen in this free-access park in Minakami.
  • Roman no Mori Kyowakoku (Chiba): In this immense natural space you can see Genji fireflies from late May to mid-June and Heike fireflies from mid-June to early July.
Fireflies in Japan
Fireflies in Japan

See fireflies in Kyoto

In the year 2000, when Laura moved to Kyoto, there were fireflies in the very Kamo River, right between Sanjo and Shijo avenues. That is to say, in the heart of Kyoto you could see fireflies with great ease.

However, in recent years, perhaps due to pollution, both light and city water, it is no longer so common to see them among the terraces of Pontocho (although if you are lucky, you may still see some, which is why we several readers have recounted).

Here are some places to see fireflies in Kyoto:

  • walk of philosophy: In the area near the Otoyo Sanctuary, many fireflies are usually seen until mid-June.
  • kurama and ohara: The Kurama and Ohara areas, in the mountains north of Kyoto, are ideal for seeing fireflies in their natural habitat.
  • Arashiyama: Arashiyama Daikakuji Temple usually releases about a thousand fireflies in June and opens its doors until 9:00 p.m. for viewing.

And near Kyoto, we recommend:

  • Uji Botanical Garden: From the end of May and during the month of June, the Uji Botanical Garden is open until 9:30 p.m. to see fireflies.
  • Uda Hotaru No: In the city of Uda, on the outskirts of Nara, fireflies are released during traditional theater performances No (month of June).

See fireflies in other places in Japan

Finally, here are some other places to see fireflies in Japan.

  • Motosu Hotaru Koen (Gifu): Probably one of the best places to see fireflies in Japan, because the fireflies use the park as their natural habitat (they are not released for the occasion, as in other parks).
  • Uchio Shrine (Hyogo): Ideal place to see fireflies of the Hime variety, which emit a softer and orange color.
  • Oshima-ku Nigami Hotaru Matsuri (Niigata): Festival held in the town of Nigami to observe the fireflies that live in the Hokura river.
  • Kemi Hotaru no Sato (Nagano): Very well preserved natural space where the "Hanami Hotaru Matsuri" or firefly watching festival is held during the month of June.
  • Onnenai Wooden Bridge (Hokkaido): In the heart of the Kushiro Shitsugen National Park, there is a wooden bridge over the Kushiro marshes from where you can enjoy the glow of dozens of fireflies.
  • Hokubo Hotaru Koen (Okayama): The city of Maniwa is advertised as the "home of the fireflies" and many viewing events are organized in the first two weeks of June.
  • Iriomote (Okinawa): The entire island is a natural park 90% covered by mangroves. Therefore, here it is easy to see fireflies of the Hime variety in their natural habitat.
Fireflies in Japan
Fireflies in Japan

Enjoy the Japanese summer and its fireflies!

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