Fireflies light Japan’s mythology

THE cherry blossoms of spring and coloured forests of autumn have become two of Japan’s greatest seasonal drawcards, but the Japanese also have a fondness for another season. In June and July — Japan’s humid summer — thousands of glowing fireflies appear at nightfall around forest streams and in secluded glens. Firefly viewing is a centuries old, traditional Japanese summer activity.

Over 45 types of firefly live in Japan, but only 14 of them have glowing back-ends. Fireflies come out at night around 7.30 to 9pm and are best seen on humid days with no breeze. Top places to view them include the free Firefly Village in Gunma Prefecture, the Roman-no Mori Kyowakoku leisure park outside Tokyo in Chiba Prefecture and the Kemi Firefly Village in Nagano Prefecture.

The lush gardens of the Hotel Chinzanso provide one of the few places in Tokyo where fireflies can be seen, while 25 minutes from central Tokyo by train is Seichi Park at the amusement park Yomiuri Land, which holds firefly nights after closing during June each year.

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