June is already summertime in Japan, and though it’s still a bit too early for the major fireworks festivals, there are opportunities to see other lights in the sky: fireflies. Read on for recommendations of Tokyo firefly events to experience this beautiful natural phenomenon.
Since it’s mating season for fireflies, the little bugs light the night sky aglow, looking almost magical in the process—like tiny floating lanterns. Japan’s two most common types of firefly are the genji-botaru and heike-botaru, which, for some reason, were named after rival clans during the Heian period. Perhaps it has something to do with how the phenomenon of fireflies emitting light is also known as hotaru gassen, or “battle of the fireflies.”
Tokyo being the urban sprawl that it is, there are already lots of neon lights to make the nights bright, and the city has less nature compared to other parts of Japan. That means that there are better places in Japan to see fireflies—but fortunately, Tokyo’s still got some decent firefly events. Time to whip out your best camera to capture the fireflies in all their glory!
1. Fussa Firefly Festival
Where: Firefly Park and the vicinity of Tamagawa Josui’s Ome Bridge (both near Ushihama Station on the JR Ome Line, or Kumagawa Station on the JR Itsukaichi Line), Fussa
When: June 16, 2018, 1pm-9pm
Never heard of Fussa City? It’s located in suburban Tokyo, and its popular Firefly Festival might just be your chance to go see what the area is like. The festival features about 500 fireflies, and, for side attractions, there are food booths and stage performances, such as Okinawa’s eisa dance, taiko, and soran bushi. You’ll want to see the fireflies’ orb-like lights, so the best time to visit is at night.
2. Yuyake Koyake Fureai no Sato
Where: 2030 Kamiongatamachi, Hachioji
When: June 9-24, 2018, 6pm-9pm
Yuyake Koyake Fureai no Sato is a camping ground and recreational facility in Hachioji, also in suburban Tokyo, and it’s one of the closest things you can get to experiencing countryside life in Tokyo. It isn’t located immediately close to a train station, so you’ll have to get off at JR or Keio Line’s Takao Station, board a Nishi-Tokyo bus bound for Jimba Kogen-Shita, and get off at the Yuyake Koyake stop 30 minutes later.
Although you normally have to pay a few hundred yen for admission, entrance is free during their Tokyo firefly nights.
3. Hotel Chinzanso
Where: 2-10-8 Sekiguchi, Bunkyo (near Edogawabashi Station)
When: May 18-July 3, 2018, 7pm-9pm
Admission: Free for paying customers (including restaurant customers)
Thanks to the swanky Hotel Chinzanso’s beautiful Japanese garden, you don’t have to leave central Tokyo to see fireflies. The hotel garden is open only to paying customers (hotel guests and/or restaurant customers). If you want to add a touch of class and maybe even romance to your firefly-viewing experience, the hotel has accommodation packages and special menu items to celebrate firefly season—none of which come cheap.
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But there are, of course, more affordable options, such as ordering tea and cake from their cafe. Still, if you’re willing to pay ¥9,800–¥10,500 for a buffet, ¥15,500 for some nice jazz music and French cuisine to accompany the fireflies’ glow, or even ¥70,000–¥80,000 for a private firefly-viewing night, we’re not going to stop you!
4. Botanical Garden Fureai
Where: 2-25-37 Higashi, Shibuya (near Shibuya Station)
When: June 20-24, 2018, 5:30pm-9pm (last entry 8:15pm)
A botanical garden in Shibuya, of all places? Who would’ve known? It’s a 12-minute walk from Shibuya Station, although you can take a quick bus ride from Shibuya Station’s east exit to get there. Despite this garden being small and not that well-known, its Tokyo firefly nights are a hit, drawing nearly 10 000 visitors over a five-day period.
Aside from seeing the fireflies, there will also be screenings of documentaries about the stages of a firefly’s life.
5. Sankeien Garden Firefly Evening
Where: Sankeien Garden, Yokohama (near Negishi Station)
When: May 25-June 3, 2018, Sundown-9pm (last entry 8:30pm)
Admission: ¥500 (¥200 for children)
Sankeien Garden is in Yokohama, but it’s not that far from Tokyo. For its annual “firefly evenings” event, the garden will be open until 9pm, but the organizers say that the best time to see the fireflies is from 7:30pm-9pm. They also caution that on rainy nights, the fireflies might take cover behind leaves, so it will be difficult to see the little buggers. Additionally, this year, Tomyoji—the three-story pagoda in the garden—will be opened to the public from 6:30pm-8:45pm on May 25-27 and June 1-3. There, visitors can see fireflies in cages, as well as images and panels about a firefly’s life cycle.
This post was originally published in June 2015. Last update: May 2018
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