Fireflies in their natural habitat in Chichibu

There is nothing quite like seeing fireflies in the wild, in their natural habitat. Chichibu is one of the few locations in Saitama that you can do just that: behold the stunning scene of fireflies in unadulterated surroundings. There are several different places you can see fireflies in the Chichibu area of Saitama Prefecture. This post contains information for an acclaimed firefly festival as well as other locations to see fireflies in Chichibu.

But first: For several years this post contained photos, used with permission, from Blue Apple Blog, where I first learned about Chichibu’s fireflies. My sincere thanks to Blue Apple San for letting me using the photos for so many years. I removed them in 2024, because I never intended to use them for so long. Please check out the Blue Apple Blog for some of the most stunning photos you’ll ever see.

Fireflies in Chichibu

Fireflies / Firefly house at Tobu Zoo
Firefly house at Tobu Zoo

There are a number of parks that have firefly events. And while, unlike Tobu Zoo’s all year round indoor firefly house, they are outside and in nature, they are often not native to the region. Sometimes, parks that have firefly events are with fireflies that have been raised for the purpose. Due to this reason, the time frame for seeing them is quite short as they tend to die sooner out of their natural environment. However, in Chichibu, particularly in the Minano town area, the fireflies are wild and free! And thanks to that the viewing period is typically longer, sometimes up to two months long.

>>If you would like to view fireflies in their natural habitat somewhere closer to Tokyo<<

The season of when you can see fireflies in Chichibu varies slightly from year to year. Some years you can see them in early June, but mostly you start to see them from mid to late June. It will depend on whether they are the hime, heike or genji variety. The hime tend to come first around mid June. The heiki and genji can often be seen in early July.

Locations in Chichibu where you can see fireflies (not all natural environment):

  • Wild fireflies at Shimoyoshida and the Yoshida Firefly Festival – featured below
  • Chichibu Muse Park: firefly event information here
  • Terasaka Rice Terraces is particularly beautiful as they have a candle night in conjunction with the firefly viewing event. 2024 information.
  • Ogawa area (not the town) is about two kilometers from Yoshida Genki Mura / Kakkaku dam in Kamiyoshida. Please note, there is no parking lot near the firefly viewing location. The closest probably is Yoshida genki mura.
  • Kamimachi Hotaru Kaiba (view on Google Maps) is an 11 minute walk from Seibu Chichibu station and relatively close to Hitsujiyama Park. If you come by car, you can use the Chichibu City Library (until 9 pm) and Konsenji parking lots. The official period for viewing in Kamimachi is from Sunday June 2nd to Wednesday July 3rd 2024.

Yoshida Fireflies

They estimate there are about 300 fireflies in the Seki area of Shimo Yoshida in Chichibu. Yoshida was once an independent town, but it was merged into Chichibu city. The firefly area is near Fruit Road and close to Tadakane farm, which is the official parking area for this event. They are Hime-hotaru, hotaru means fireflies, which come out up to two weeks earlier than the other two varieties of fireflies found in Japan (Heike and Genji). In addition, they are also faster maturing than the Heike and Genji variation and so turn on their lights sooner to attract females during mating season!

They can often be seen from 7 pm, but the recommended time is about 8.30 to 9.30 pm. However, there is no guarantee you can see them at this time either, as sometimes it is closer to midnight before you can see the flickering fireflies. A level of patience is required for firefly viewing in nature! It should go without saying: you are not to catch the fireflies. Also, you need to be quiet and no lights allowed in the vicinity of the fireflies, not even light from a smart phone. Please watch your footing as it is pitch black!

Yoshida Firefly Festival

In 2024, for the first time in five years, they will have a “festival”, during the prime period of viewing. It isn’t a festival in the typical meaning of the word. It just indicates that the firefly viewing is open to the public. The ‘festival’ period in 2024 is from Saturday June 15th to Sunday June 30th, on the Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays only.

Information

Event: Yoshida Firefly Festival 吉田ほたるの郷の会【ほたる祭り】

Dates: Saturday June 15th, Sunday June 16th, Friday June 21st, Saturday June 22nd, Sunday June 23rd, Friday June 28th, Saturday June 29th and Sunday June 30th 2024.

Time: from 6.30 to 9.30 pm

Cost: there is no admission fee, but parking costs 300 yen.

Venue: Yoshida Firefly Village 吉田ホタルの郷, Seki, Shimoyoshida, Chichibu, Saitama 〒369-1503

Access Fireflies at Shimoyoshida

It is fairly difficult to get to the area by public transport, due to the infrequency of buses, but it is possible. However, this location is best suited to those coming by car. It is commutable from Tokyo, about 2 hours one way. The official parking for the Yoshida firefly festival festival is Tadakane farm. It used to be free, but I heard they now request a 300 yen contribution fee. Please check with the Chichibu Navi website for any updates.

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2 Comments

    1. Who knows, maybe there is some structure in their society and the patterns are deliberate? I haven’t the foggiest, but Blue Apple san is thankfully an excellent photographer and got these great shots, because fireflies are soooo hard to capture on camera. Thanks as always for commenting Andy

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