It’s the start of firefly viewing season in Kyushu, so we’ve rounded up some of the best local hotaru festivals!
Fireflies (hotaru in Japanese) are a symbol of the start of summer in Japan. Like sakura season, hotaru season starts in the south of Japan and moves up the country. The best time to see them in Fukuoka is from late May to mid-June. They’ve already emerged in other places, so check out the firefly forecast for more details! Fireflies appear just after the rain when there is low wind, high humidity and the temperature is nice and warm. The lifespan of an adult firefly is only one to two weeks. In that short time, their fluttering lights brighten the night sky, showing us their beautiful, magical world.
Hotaru Viewing Tips
Here are some basic tips to remember when looking for fireflies:
1. No flashlights or flash photography. Fireflies communicate each other through their own light signals. If there is another source of light, or a camera flash, the fireflies cannot communicate, and will instead fly in darkness.
2. Do not bring fireflies back home. Fireflies only live by clean rivers, and have a short lifespan of just 7 ~ 10 days. Leave them in their natural habitat.
3. Do not litter. Keep their habitat nice and clean.
4. Check the weather in advance. Fireflies don’t come out when it’s too cold, too windy, during heavy rain, or under strong moonlight.
5. Time your visit. The prime viewing time for fireflies is around 20:30 ~ 21:30.
6. Be quiet. Enjoy the peaceful atmosphere created by nature.
Firefly Festival Guide
Many firefly festivals are held to celebrate the fleeting appearance of the glowing, winged bugs. You can make a day of your trip and enjoy food and entertainment from the afternoon to evening. Here are some of the best spots to view fireflies this year.
[Hakata Ward, Fukuoka City]
JR Hakata City Firefly Night
See a hundred fireflies in the heart of Hakata! The Tsubame no Mori Hiroba, a rooftop garden above JR Hakata Station, has a biotope which recreates the environment wild fireflies inhabit in nature. The rooftop stalls open during the afternoon on every Friday and Saturday throughout the firefly-viewing season – try some of the dagashi (inexpensive Japanese sweets)! The fireflies are most active between 20:00 and 21:00, so why not drop by on your way home?
• 5/26 (Fri.), 5/27 (Sat.), 6/2 (Fri.), 6/3 (Sat.), 6/9 (Fri.), 6/10 (Sat.), 6/16 (Fri.), 6/17 (Sat)
• 18:00 ~ 20:30
• Closed: in case of inclement weather (in case of rainy weather, event will be held at the elevator hall)
• Rooftop Tsubame no Mori Hiroba, Amu Plaza, JR Hakata City
• 1-1 Hakataeki-chuogai, Hakata-ku, Fukuoka
• 092-431-8484 (JR Hakata City Information)
[Kamijo Machi, Yame City, Fukuoka]
Yame Joyo Town, Hotaru & Tea Festival 2017
An annual firefly festival in Joyo-machi, Yame City. The “Hotaru to Ishibashi no Yakata (The Palace of Stone Bridge and Fireflies)” is at the center of the festival where a firefly information center is available. Ask about the best firefly spots, or relax with a cup of newly-picked tea (shincha) here. The best time to watch fireflies is between 20:00 and 21:00, especially on humid nights. It is expected to get busy in the area during weekends so we recommend you go on weekday evenings if you prefer to view them on a less busier day.
• 5/31 (Fri.) ~ 6/7 (Wed.)
• Information center: 18:00~21:00 (Closed: in case of rainy weather)
• 589-2 Kitagawauchi, Joyo-machi, Yame City, Fukuoka
• 0943-54-2219 (Yame City Construction Economic Affairs Division)
[Kojio, Ukiha City, Fukuoka]
Kojio Firefly Festival
Known as the “firefly valley,” a lot of visitors come to Kojio yearly for firefly-watching. With Kojio Hotaru-no-Sato-Hiroba as the center of the festival, food stalls and more can also be enjoyed at nearby assembly halls. Hanging lanterns will light up the route, adding to the firefly-watching mood. Parking available at Kojio Shou-Gakkou (elementary school). Best time to view is from 20:00 onwards.
• 6/2 (Sat.), 6/3 (Sun.)
• 18:00 ~
• Kojio Hotaru-no-Sato-Hiroba
• 2469-1 Kojio, Ukiha-machi, Ukiha City, Fukuoka
• 0943-77-4835 (Kojio District Autonomous Conference)
[Kokonoe Machi, Kusu-gun, Oita Pref.]
24th Hosenji Onsen Firefly Festival
Around the Machida River area, you can see many different types of fireflies. From late May, Genji-botaru (Luciola cruciata the most well-known fireflies in Japan) start flying, in mid-June, the Heike-botaru, and then in early July, the Hime-botaru (smaller and less famous fireflies) can also be seen in the area. Every Saturday evening during the firefly season, various events are held in front of Ryokan Kokonoe. Their guide will show you the best spots to view Genji-botaru!
• 6/3 (Sat.), 6/10(Sat.), 6/17 (Sat.), 6/24 (Sat.), 7/1 (Sat.)
• Event: 19:30~
• In front of Kokonoe Ryokan
• 2424-1 Machida, Kokonoe Machi, Kusu-gun, Oita
• 0973-73-5505 (Kokonoe-machi Tourism Association)
[Tachibana, Yame City, Fukuoka]
Hebaru Firefly Festival
Witness the merry dance of fireflies near Hebaru River. The wet rice fields reflecting the firefly lights is an enchanting scenery you wouldn’t want to miss. Stalls selling fresh local produce from Tachibana-machi and more will also be there. If you’re coming by car, stop at Nagase Park. It’s a 5~6 minute walk from there to the firefly-watching spot.
• 5/27 (Sat.), 5/28 (Sun.)
• Nagase Park
• Kamihebaru, Tachibana-machi, Yame City
• 0943-36-0285 (Hebaru Regional Revival Council)
[Tohomura, Asakura-gun, Fukuoka]
30th Toho Village Hoshuyama Hotaru Festival
From late May to mid-June, you can enjoy glowing fireflies in the night sky of Hoshuyama. There will be a music stage with dance and band performances as well as a lucky draw for local products! The viewing takes place on a specially prepared path next to the river, giving you a great view of the fireflies dancing. While there are no parking spaces at the event, there will be a temporary parking area at JR Hoshuyama Station.
• 6/3 (Sat.)
• 17:00~22:00 (Stage events: 18:00~22:00, peak viewing hours: 20:00~21:00)
• Free shuttle bus: 16:00~22:30 (from fields behind JR Hoshuyama Sta. to venue)
• Tanadashinsui Park Hiroba
• 3100 Hoshuyama, Tohomura, Asakura-gun, Fukuoka
• 0946-72-2313 (Toho Village Department of Agriculture and Tourism)
Join this late-afternoon walk through Toho village and watch as the fireflies come out for the night! Starting from Hoshuyama Station (JR Hitahikosan Line), the course takes over three hours to complete and is about 8 km in length. No reservation is needed and everyone is welcome to join this event (and it’s free)! This event is held alongside the Toho Village Hoshuyama Hotaru Festival.
• 6/3 (Sat.)
• Start registration: 15:30~18:30 (Hoshuyama Sta.)
• Goal registration: ~21:00 (Chikuzen-iwaya Sta.)
• Free (advance application not required)
• Fukui, Tohomura, Asakura-gun, Fukuoka
• 0946-72-2313 (Toho Village Department of Agriculture and Tourism)
[Tojinmachi, Chuo Ward, Fukuoka City]
Myohoji Firefly Festival
Myohoji Temple is one of the few rare spots in Fukuoka City where fireflies can be seen. They began breeding Genji fireflies in 2001 and let them grow wild around the stream within the temple compound. The chief priest graduated from the aquatic bioscience department of Tokyo University and is currently researching on firefly breeding and ecology. A free morin khuur (Mongolian instrument) concert will be held at 18:00 on June 3 (entrance for the first 250 visitors).
[Wakita, Miyawaka City, Fukuoka]
16th Miyawaka Firefly Festival
This is the 16th Miyawaka City Firefly Festival. Follow the route lit with beautiful bamboo lanterns to get to the main viewing point. Band performances, hula dances and more will be here, as well as various food stalls! Parking available at Nishikura-no-oka-Sougou-Undou Park, where a free shuttle will take you to the venue. A free violin and flute mini concert will be held at 17:30 on June 10.
• 6/3 (Sat.) 15:00 ~ 21:00 (rain or shine)
• Shuttle bus for firefly-watching operates only on 6/6
• Moto-kichikawa Elementary School (Fireflies located around Kurozimu-gu Shrine)
• 394-1 Wakita, Miyawaka City, Fukuoka
• 0949-55-9090 (Miyakawa City Tourism Center)
[Yahatanishi Ward, Kitakyushu City, Fukuoka]
25th Kitakyushu Katsuki – Kurokawa District
One of the most famous firefly-watching spot in Kitakyushu City, located in the Katsuki area in Yahatanishi-ku. Over 2,000 fireflies are expected to appear between Ishizaka bridge and Umezaki bridge on Kurokawa river from late May to early June. This year fireflies have already been sighted as early as May 3. Best time to view would be around 20:00 on a hot day. There are limits upon the car traffic in the area during the festival, but there are 200 parking spots at the Katsuki Chuo Park parking lot (~21:00).
• 5/27 (Sat.) ~ 5/28 (Sun.)
• Around Katsuki-Kurokawa Hotaru Yakata
• 4-6-1 Katsukichuo, Yahatanishi-ku, Kitakyushu City
• 093-618-2727 (Katsuki-Kurokawa Hotaru Yakata)
Originally written in May 2016. Updated May 2017.
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NOTE: The information presented here was gathered and summarized by the Fukuoka Now staff. While we have done our best to check for accuracy, there might be errors and details may have changed. If you notice any errors or changes, please contact us. This report was originally written in May 2016.