Did you know that you can see fireflies in Saitama all year round? The Tobu Zoo is home to the first and only firefly house in the world. And while it is fascinating to see fireflies anywhere or anytime, there is nothing quite like seeing them 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 featured photo and above photo is from Blue Apple san, more information below.
I have visited the firefly house in Tobu Zoo and had the unforgettable experience of seeing fireflies in the wild in both Kanagawa and Akita prefectures. Nothing compares to the first hand experience in nature. I have yet to get Chichibu myself to see the fireflies as we have had children since we moved here. Maybe in a few years when the kids are older, because as it is now, they go to bed just as the fireflies are rising; about 7 pm!
I have collated information over the years about fireflies in Saitama. There are a number of parks that have firefly events. And while, unlike Tobu Zoo’s firefly house, they are outside and in nature, they are not native to the region. More often than not, 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 varies slightly from year to year. This year, possibly due to the hotter weather in May, the fireflies are visible a little earlier than normal. You can usually see them from mid to late June in any year and depending on how the weather has been you maybe able to see them for up to two weeks before and/or after that.
Locations in Chichibu where you can see fireflies (not all natural environment):
- Shimoyoshida – featured below
- Chichibu Muse Park (see events section of Insaitama.com)
- Terasaka Rice Terraces (see events section of Insaitama.com)
- Hana Hasu Garden
- Ogawa – near to Kakkaku dam in Kamiyoshida
- Kamimachi – 11 minute walk from Seibu Chichibu station
Fireflies in their natural habitat at Shimoyoshida
The best time to see them in 2018 is speculated to be from this week. They estimate there are about 300 fireflies. They are Hime-hotaru which come out up to two weeks earlier than the other two varieties of fireflies found in Japan (Heike and Genji). 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!
As per above, 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.
The area is in Akahiragawa Yoshidagawa Mizube Park, Google maps below. You can get a bus from Seibu Chichibu station bound for 「吉田元気村」alight at 「吉田上町下車」and it is a 15 minute walk.
Parking is available at the park for those coming by car.
Thanks again to Blue Apple さん for permitting me to use his stunning Shimoyoshida firefly photos for this blog post.