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.
Fireflies in Chichibu
Fireflies in Chichibu featured photo and above photo is from Blue Apple san, more information below.
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 captured 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.
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 – 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. It is on in 2023 for the first time in four years.
- Ogawa 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 is an 11 minute walk from Seibu Chichibu station and relatively close to Hitsujiyama Park. The official period for viewing in Kamimachi is from Saturday June 3rd to Friday July 7th 2023. In 2022, by mid June there were dozens of fireflies glowing nightly.
Fireflies in their natural habitat at Shimoyoshida
They estimate there are about 300 fireflies in the Shimoyoshida area of Chichibu. Specifically the area around Fruit Road and near the Arakawa close to Akahiragawa Yoshidagawa Mizube Park.
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! However, the best time to see fireflies in Shimoyoshida is generally from mid June to early July.
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!
The featured photo and first photo in the article are courtesy of Blue Apple san, who very kindly granted permission for me to use the photos for this blog post. If you read Japanese blue.appleさん has fantastic, detailed information about Shimoyoshida: BLUE APPLE BLOG. Even if you don’t read Japanese, you should check out his firefly photos; absolutely amazing. (I have no affiliation to this site, just an admirer).
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. Parking is available at the Akahiragawa Yoshidagawa Mizube park for those coming by car.
Seki Chiku No Hotaru, also in the Shimoyoshida district, is about a 20 minute walk from Akahiragawa Yoshidagawa Mizube park. But there is a farm in the area, Tadakane farm, where you can park for firefly viewing. 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.
Thanks again to Blue Apple さん for permitting me to use his stunning Shimoyoshida firefly photos for this blog post.