Wild firefly viewing Japan

Tips for wild firefly viewing and a convenient location for an evening of fireflies in Saitama Prefecture.

Wild Firefly Viewing

There are two main ways to view fireflies in Japan. One, is to go to a firefly house, of which there are a dime a dozen in Japan. During the pandemic many of them were closed, but this year – 2023 – the majority of them are reopening. Some hotels and resorts create firefly houses for firefly festivals. But fireflies at these type of events don’t live long, because they are not in their natural habitat. At firefly houses near water sources where fireflies were once indigenous, they live a little longer.

The other way to view fireflies in Japan, is in the wild. And wild fireflies can mate for up to two months. There are dozens of places in Saitama Prefecture, near Tokyo, where you can view fireflies in the wild. This article focuses on one that is centrally located. But I have also mention several other places (with links to more information in English) throughout the article.

Please note, that you cannot and should not catch fireflies at these locations. Also, more so than at a firefly house or festival, it is essential that you wear comfortable shoes and clothes that will protect you from the elements. Apart from finding fireflies at these locations, it is quite possible you will also come across snakes and other wild beings too!


There are three main types of fireflies you can see in Japan: Hime, Genji and Heike. The latter two, which are native to Japan, are interestingly named after two rival clans from the Heian period – Genji vs Heike. In Japan, there is a belief that fireflies are the spirits of fallen samurai. It maybe well be why the fireflies were named after these famous feuding families. Another theory why they were named after the Genji and Heike clans, is that because the mating dance of fireflies is called hotaru gassen in Japanese, literally battle of the fireflies.


The Firefly viewing season in Japan is from around the end of May to mid August. However, in Saitama Prefecture generally the end of June and early July is the best time to see them. There are exceptions. For example, one of the earliest firefly viewing events in Saitama Prefecture, at Kinchakuda, is in May. Both the Konan and Musashi Ichinomiya Hikawa Shrine firefly viewing events are famous within Saitama. But they are also earlier than the ‘average’, usually taking place on the first Saturday night of June. The firefly viewing events in parks different greatly. For example, in Sayama it is in mid June, but in Chichibu Muse Park it is early July.

However, the most famous place for wild fireflies is the Chichibu area and those fireflies generally glow from mid June to early July. Of the Chichibu locations, these days Terasaka Rice Terraces is probably the most famous due to the beautiful firefly event they host with music and candles. Chichibu maybe renowned for its firefly viewing, but the locations are very remote and difficult to get to even during the day, never mind the night. Below you will find information for the firefly viewing season at Kitamoto Nature Observation Park which is more accessible than Chichibu…

Kitamoto Nature Observation Park

The fireflies at Kitamoto Nature Observation park are Heike fireflies, which are smaller than Genji fireflies. They are wild fireflies that have been naturally occurring in the park’s wetlands since ancient times. There are no indoor observation facilities or breeding facilities. As such, there are quite a few rules you are expected to observe while visiting the fireflies here. For example, you need to be quiet, no flash lights or light of any kind, including from a smart phone! You can take photos, but you need to do it without flash light or screen light. If you can’t respect the rules, you will be asked to leave.

Firefly season

The official firefly season at Kitamoto Nature Observation Park in 2023 is from June 24th to August 13th. During that time the nature study center at Kitamoto Nature Observation Park will be open late on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. In the Nature Study Center you can find a map with the firefly locations pinpointed. They also provide information and tips for viewing the fireflies. If you have never been to Kitamoto Nature Park before, they advise that you arrive before dark to get a feel of the park before dark. They also strongly advise against visiting when there is heavy rain, strong winds and / or a typhoon.

They recommend where possible to visit on week nights as weekends can get very busy. The Nature Study Center won’t be open on a weekday night, but they leave a side entrance – by the main entrance – to the park open so people can view on quieter nights to try and ease the congestion of weekends. The best time to see them is generally between 7.30 and 8.30 pm. From June they report once a week on the number of fireflies at the park. In 2022, the first firefly was seen, alone, on June 10th. The number of fireflies increased the following weeks. Then they started to peter out in August. The season ended on September 2nd when there were just ten fireflies.

Firefly Viewing Event

If you would rather view the fireflies with a guide, that too is possible at Kitamoto Nature Observation Park. They will have firefly viewing events on:

  • Tuesday July 4th
  • Wednesday July 5th
  • Tuesday July 11th
  • Wednesday July 12th
  • Wednesday July 19th
  • Monday July 24th
  • Tuesday July 25th
  • Wednesday July 26th

There will also be a “nature observation night” on Saturday July 29th and Sunday July 30th. Both the firefly viewing and nature observation events require advance registration.

Full details about Kitamoto Nature Observation park, which was Saitama’s first official forest therapy base:

Make a full night of it!

Nearby one coin campsite, with affordable cabins too…


Event: Kitamoto Nature Observation Park Firefly Season 北本自然観察公園のホタル観察

Season: from Saturday June 24th to Sunday August 13th 2023.

Hours: Kitamoto Nature Observation Park is in theory open 24 hours. But the car park, facilities and Saitama Nature Learning Center are closed on Mondays and only open from 9 am to 5 pm the rest of the week. However, for the firefly event (and some other summer events) the parking lot stays open later. Moreover, the Nature Study Center opens late on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays during the firefly season.

Cost: free

Venue: Kitamoto Nature Observation Park, 5-200 Arai, Kitamoto, Saitama 〒364-0026 Japan. View on Google Maps.


Kitamoto Nature Observation Park and the Saitama Nature Study center are approximately 3.5 kilometers from Kitamoto Station on the JR Takasaki Line. You can get a Kawagoe Kanko bus from the west exit of the station to the park. It takes about 15 minutes by bus or about 45 minutes on foot. Buses run until 10 pm on weekdays and to about 9 pm on weekends on public holidays.

There are two parking lots, both are free. The main parking lot is on the east side of the park beside the Kitasato University Medical Center. If the parking at the nature park is full you can actually park at the medical center. The first hour is free and then it costs 200 yen per hour after that.

Kitamoto Nature Observation Park official website.

The featured photo at the top of the post is by KIWI CHEN from Pixabay.

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