Firefly viewing season is beginning earlier than usual in Kyushu due to the warmer weather, and fireflies have already been spotted in some areas. Fireflies, known as hotaru in Japanese, signal the start of summer, similar to the sakura season. Their presence moves northward from the south of Japan, similar to the cherry blossoms. Fukuoka Now has curated nine spots in the Fukuoka suburbs that are perfect for firefly viewing.
Firefly Viewing Season:
In Fukuoka, the best time to see fireflies is from late May to mid-June, from sunset until 9 pm. They have already made an appearance in other regions, so keep an eye on the firefly forecast for more information! Fireflies are typically found near clean water sources and green spaces. They emerge shortly after it rains, when the wind is low, the humidity is high, and the temperature is comfortably warm. Adult fireflies live for only one to two weeks, but during this brief period, their flickering lights create a captivating, enchanting night display.
Hotaru Viewing Tips:
When viewing fireflies, keep the following tips in mind:
1. Do not use flashlights or flash photography, as fireflies communicate via their light signals. They will fly in darkness if exposed to other light sources or camera flashes.
2. Do not take fireflies home. They thrive by clean rivers and live for only 7-10 days. It’s best to leave them in their natural environment.
3. Keep their habitat clean by not littering.
4. Check the weather before your visit. Fireflies do not emerge when it’s too cold, too windy, during heavy rain, or under intense moonlight.
5. Plan your visit. The optimal time to view fireflies is between 19:30 and 21:00.
6. Be quiet and respect the serenity of nature.
Popular Firefly Varieties in Kyushu:
1. Genji-botaru (Luciola cruciata) – The most recognized firefly species in Japan, found across Kyushu and Honshu. They spend their larval stage near clear streams.
2. Heike-botaru (Aquatica lateralis) – As common as the Genji-botaru in Japan, they are smaller and breed in rice paddies and marshes.
3. Hime-botaru (Luciola parvula) – Known for their intense brightness and characteristic blinking, this species is widespread in Japan. They usually inhabit forests and are therefore not commonly observed by humans.
Tsubame no Mori Hiroba (Rooftop Garden) – Firefly Observation
Enjoy the sight of fireflies hatched within the biotope situated at Tsubame no Mori Hiroba, a rooftop garden above JR Hakata Station. Genji botaru fireflies, bred at Hakata Station and released in March, can be observed in the specifically designed “Firefly Garden” biotope.
Firefly Viewing Event
On June 3rd and 4th, a special event will be held for elementary school students and younger to learn about the biotope where the fireflies thrive, as well as their ecology. This event will be conducted in Japanese and is limited to 10 groups (reservations required).
• Late May ~ mid-June
• 10:00~20:00 (firefly viewing: sunset ~)
• Free entry
• Tsubame no Mori Hiroba (rooftop), JR Hakata City
• 1-1 Hakataeki-chuogai, Hakata-ku, Fukuoka
Myohoji Temple Wild Firefly Public Viewing
Myohoji Temple is one of the few precious locations in Fukuoka City where you can observe fireflies in their natural habitat. Starting in 2001, the temple initiated a program to breed Genji fireflies and allowed them to populate the stream within the temple compound. Interestingly, the chief priest is a graduate of the aquatic bioscience department of Tokyo University and is currently involved in research regarding the breeding and ecology of fireflies.
Although the temple gate typically closes at 18:00, it remains open to the public during the evening of the firefly viewing event. The event features a fair and performances of the Morin Khuur (a traditional Mongolian instrument) and ocarina, attracting many visitors. Access to the event is limited to 150 people from 18:00 when numbered tickets are distributed.
• 6/3 (Sat.) *rain or shine
• 18:00~22:30 (fair held from 16:00~20:00)
• Free viewing (no reservations, admission in order of line)
• Kagerou Garden, Myohoji Temple
• 3-10-41 Tojinmachi, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka
*Parking lot for worshippers and bicycle parking are not available on the day of the firefly viewing event.
Mamushi-no-yu is a popular hot spring facility located in Itoshima. The name interestingly translates to “snake bite antidote”, implying the waters have incredibly soothing properties. The hot spring is about a ten-minute walk from Fukuyoshi River, which serves as a habitat to a multitude of fireflies.
If you’re seeking a unique experience that combines both relaxation and nature, consider visiting Mamushi-no-yu. After unwinding in the soothing waters of the hot spring, you can take a short, leisurely walk to Fukuyoshi River, where you’ll get the opportunity to observe the beautiful spectacle of fireflies illuminating the evening atmosphere.
Motogi River Nature Park
Located at the base of a mountain near the headwaters of the Saigo River, Motogi River Nature Park in Fukutsu City is renowned for being a habitat for fireflies. These enchanting creatures start to make their appearances in late May, adding an extra touch of magic to the park’s lush, green scenery.
The park features a stream that meanders through its heart, providing an ideal home for the fireflies. There are also conveniently placed stairs by the creek, offering visitors a perfect spot to sit, relax, and observe the charming spectacle of the fireflies in their natural habitat.
Whether you’re a nature lover or simply someone looking for a serene spot to unwind, Motogi River Nature Park, with its scenic beauty and gentle firefly lights, provides an idyllic setting.
• Mid-May ~ early June
• 1957-1 Motogi, Fukutsu City, Fukuoka
• Parking: free (60 spaces)
Hotaru no Sato Park
Established in 1995, the Hotaru no Sato Park in Munakata City designed to restore and preserve the area’s rich water flow and natural environment. Lying along a river, the park serves as a sanctuary for various species of fireflies, including genji botaru, heike botaru, and hime botaru.
During the peak season, you can witness the enchanting sight of 300 to 400 fireflies illuminating the surroundings with their ethereal glow. The park also features walking paths that provide year-round enjoyment, where you can stroll and take in the beautiful landscape. For families with children, the park also offers playground equipment, making it a great destination for a day of fun and exploration in the outdoors.
• Mid-May to early June
• 44-1 Yamada, Munakata City, Fukuoka
• Parking: free (19 spaces)
Kojio area: Kojio Rever
Located in the city of Ukiha, Kojio is famous for its flourishing firefly population. The community in this district is wholeheartedly involved in the nurturing of these enchanting creatures, particularly by promoting the cultivation of freshwater snails (kawanina) that serve as the primary food for fireflies.
As you stroll along the Kojio River, you can stop by any of the ten firefly-viewing spots, where you’re guaranteed to catch a magical sight of these glowing insects from mid-May to early June. A hub for firefly lovers, the Kojio Firefly Village Plaza, is conveniently situated by the river.
During the peak of the firefly season, on June 2nd and 3rd, the community comes together for the Kojio Firefly Festival, which commences at 18:00. The main venue is the Kojio Firefly Park, but visitors are encouraged to explore the other viewing spots scattered around the area for a truly immersive experience. As part of the festival’s festivities, local residents set up stalls selling regional specialties and other items, adding to the vibrant, communal atmosphere.
If you’re interested in experiencing the natural wonders of Japan, don’t miss out on this mesmerizing firefly-viewing opportunity in Kojio.
Yame City, renowned for its tea production, prides itself on its robust efforts to preserve its natural environment. This commitment is evident in the city’s active involvement in firefly conservation initiatives.
Running through the lush surroundings of Joyo-machi, the Hoshino River serves as a habitat for genji hotaru (fireflies). During the firefly season, you can enjoy a breathtaking view of these insects illuminating the night, especially around the bridges, where their lights beautifully complement the bridge’s structure.
During this period, the city sets up a firefly information center at the “Hotaru to Ishibashi no Yakata,” located near Yoriguchi Bridge. If you’re interested in the 2023 firefly season, updates will be made available on the official website.
Yame Joyo Firefly and New Tea Festival
This annual festival is scheduled for May 27 and 28 at the “Hotaru to Ishibashi no Yakata.” Festival attendees can look forward to an array of stage events, a marché, and a complimentary tasting of the season’s new tea.
If you’re interested in experiencing the interplay between Yame City’s rich tea culture and its commitment to preserving the environment, the Yame Joyo Firefly and New Tea Festival promises an unforgettable experience.
• Late May ~ early June
• Along the Hoshino River, Joyo-machi, Yame City, Fukuoka (Todoroki area, near Makura Bridge, near Yoriguchi Bridge)
• Yame Joyo Firefly and New Tea Festival: 5/27(Sat.), 5/28 (Sun.)
• Hotaru to Ishibashi no Yakata (589-2 Kitakawauchi, Joyo-machi, Yame City, Fukuoka)
Toho-mura, located at the headwaters of the Hoshuyama River, Ohi River, and Koishiwara River, is famous for its production of Koishiwara ware and Takatori ware. The village provides an unforgettable experience for visitors, especially during mid-May to mid-June, when the night sky lights up with the ethereal glow of fireflies.
Despite the heavy rainfall that affected northern Kyushu in 2017, leading to a decrease in the firefly population, the residents of Toho-mura have been working diligently to protect and nurture these luminescent creatures. Their efforts are bearing fruit, and the firefly population is gradually recovering.
One of the best places to enjoy this magical spectacle is at Tanadashinsui Park. Equipped with a parking lot for the convenience of visitors, the park is an ideal place to unwind and bask in the entrancing display of the fireflies against the backdrop of the night sky. If you’re planning to visit, make sure to mark your calendar and come during the firefly season.
• Mid-May to mid-June
• 3100 Hoshuyama, Toho-mura, Asakura, Fukuoka
• Parking: free (25 spaces)
Ureshino City, Saga
Ureshino Onsen area
Ureshino, renowned for its hot springs, transforms into an enchanting spectacle during firefly season. Immerse yourself in an unforgettable experience as you witness thousands of fireflies illuminating the night sky.
A prime location to witness this natural phenomenon is the area upstream of the Iwayagawachi Dam. Situated just a 10-minute drive away from Ureshino Onsen, this location offers an unspoiled environment perfect for fireflies. As there are no streetlights in this area, you’ll be enveloped in darkness, making the sight of fireflies glowing in the grass near the waterfall even more breathtaking.
So, plan your trip around the firefly season this year and make unforgettable memories in Ureshino. Whether you’re soaking in the renowned hot springs or marveling at the glittering fireflies, you’re sure to have an incredible experience.
• Late May to mid-June
• Iwayagawachi, Ureshino-machi, Ureshino City, Saga
• Paking: ¥300 (24h)
Firefly Bus * Available only to guests staying at Ureshino Onsen
Guests staying at Ureshino Onsen have an added advantage during the firefly season. A free firefly bus service is provided which tours all the firefly spots within the Onsen district, making your firefly viewing experience hassle-free and enjoyable.
To add to the charm, on June 3 and 10, a mini night market will be organized at the “select shop ashiya” located next to the “Siebold’s Footbath” bus stop. The market will be open from 19:30 to 20:30 and will offer a range of sundries and other goods for sale.
This is a great opportunity to engage in a bit of nighttime shopping after a day of firefly viewing. Enjoy the bustling atmosphere of the market, pick up some local trinkets and savor the experience of your stay at Ureshino Onsen.
• 6/2 (Fri.) ~ 6/11 (Sun.)
• First service: 20:00~21:00, Second service: 20:30~21:30 *In case of rain, it will be decided after 17:30 on the day of the event
• Firefly Bus reservations: Make reservations directly with the inn where you will be staying by 17:00 on the day of your ride.
This article was originally penned in May 2016 and updated in May 2023.
All text, photos, and illustrations are the property of Fukuoka Now. Permission is required for any form of reuse. However, you are welcome to link to this page.
NOTE: This information has been collected and condensed by the Fukuoka Now team. While we strive for accuracy, there may be errors or details that have changed over time. If you spot any inaccuracies or changes, please do not hesitate to contact us.