Hunting Fireflies

The end of May and throughout June is firefly season in Japan. Beginning with the genjibotaru (ゲンジボタル, laciola), you can spot many different varieties of fireflies near clear streams. Firefly viewing is a time-honored tradition and one of the features of Japanese summers. It may be a little difficult to see wild fireflies in the city center, but in places currently engaged in redeveloping the natural environment, and artificially rearing fireflies, it’s possible to view them.

Here we introduce some places in and around Tokyo where you can view fireflies, as well as some seasonal events related to hotaru.

Please note that it is extremely important to be quiet when approaching the fireflies, and not to use flash photography.


Shibuya Fureai Botanic Center: Hotaru no Yube 2012 (Firefly Night 2012)

In the center of Shibuya. Two types of fireflies illuminate a babbling stream in the Green Garden greenhouse featuring tropical and horticultural plants. The heikebotaru (ヘイケボタル) fireflies will be out around 4:00pm-7:00pm, while the genjibotaru (ゲンジボタル) will be visible from 6:30pm. Open at night especially for this event, entry in the evening is free.

12 min. from Shibuya Sta.
June 23-27, 2012
4:00pm-9:00pm (Last admission 8:30pm)
Admission Fee:
Free entry during 4:00pm-9:00pm on the above dates.
Website: Botanical Garden FUREAI (in Japanese only)
Other Notes:
Regular admission: 100 Yen (Entry is free for preschoolers, elementary school children and people over 60 living in Shibuya ward)
Garden closed 3:00-4:00pm from the 23rd to the 27th.
Botanical Garden FUREAI

Chinzansou: Hotaru no Yube (Firefly Night)

Chinzansou is known as one of the most famous places in the city for fireflies. Nestled deep within a lush and spacious garden, you won’t think you’re in the city as the otherworldy light of the genjibotaru and heikebotaru illuminates the scenery. Several events are coordinated at the Chinzansou and the Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo, including special menus and travel plans, which can be enjoyed with the kids or just the adults.

Bus from Mejiro Sta. Alternatively, 10 min. walk from Edogawabashi Sta. Parking also provided.
May 19-July 16, 2012
Time varies by location.
Website: Hotel Chinzanso
Website: Firefly Evenings information (in Japanese)
Hotel Chinzanso

Fussa Firefly Festival

During the 50s and 60s, genjibotaru fireflies used to swarm in the trees by the pristine water of the Tamagawa river, and the area was known as a midsummer spot aglow with the insects. Since then the number of fireflies has gone down as a result of urbanization, leading to the creation of a firefly reserve in order to protect their terrain. Nowadays a festival is held there every year, where visitors can enjoy a variety of events while watching over 1,000 fireflies dance in the air.

10 min. from Ushihama Sta., or 7 min. from Kumagawa Sta.
June 16, 2012
Website: Fussa Hotaru Park (in Japanese only)
Website: Festival information (in Japanese only)
Fussa Hotaru Park

Ukai Toriyama: Hotaru-gari (Firefly Hunt)

Situated in the valley behind Mount Takao, this restaurant’s premises reach almost 20,000m2. Traditional architectural buildings in styles such as gasshōzukuri (合掌造り) and a teahouse, as well as separate sukiyazukuri (数寄屋造) private dining rooms stand in its garden. It goes without saying that this kaiseki (Japanese banquet) restaurant is incredibly famous. Every year, when the season comes around, they hold their “firefly hunt”, where they take down the lights in order to have the fireflies dance gracefully in the peaceful garden. Visitors eat while viewing this scene that could have been taken right out of a painting. A special menu is offered while the “firefly hunt” is on. Even when the hunt is over, it is possible to see the fireflies until mid-August.

042-661-0739 (Reservation recommended)
Courtesy bus from Takaosanguchi Sta. (Keio Line).
Parking also available.
June 5-July 11, 2012
Restaurant Hours: 11:00am–9:30pm (9:00pm Sundays and Holidays)
Reception time: 11:00am–8:00pm (7:00pm Sundays and Holidays)
Avarage Price: 5,780 Yen / 6,830 Yen / 7,880 Yen / 8,930 Yen (Course Menu)
Website: Ukai Toriyama
Ukai Toriyama


Sankeien: Hotaru no Yube (Firefly Night)

With over one hundred years of history behind it, the Sankeien garden is a name most people know for its scenic beauty and seasonal events. At this time of year, that means firefly viewing. Within the spacious park grounds, the best place to see fireflies is at the back near the Kogawa riverbanks (Landmarks: Yokobuean, Kankakyou). Firefly cages have been placed inside the normally closed Kyu-Tomyoji, so that visitors can observe the fireflies close up. In order to avoid the weekend rush and allow visitors to take the time to enjoy themselves, the park is also open on weekday nights. A place to take in the ephemerally beautiful light, the rich greenery and historical sights, and enjoy a scene of otherworldy visions.

Bus from Negishi, Sakuragicho, Yokohama, Motomachi-Chukagai Stations
June 2-10, 2012
Admission Fee:
Adults: 500 Yen / Children: 200 Yen / Seniors: 300 Yen
Website: Sankeien
Other Notes:
During firefly night, last entry is at 8:30pm, the park will close at 9:00pm.
Firefly viewings in the Kyu-Tomyoji hall: June 4th (Sat), 5th (Sun), 10th (Fri),
11th (Sat), 12th (Sun). 6:30pm-8:45pm.

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