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Firefly viewing events are held in June and are some of the most awaited events that announce the arrival of summer in Japan. Here we introduce the firefly viewing event held at Yokohama's celebrated Sankeien Garden.
Sankeien is a wide Japanese style garden in southern Yokohama famous for having a number of historic buildings from all around Japan on display. There is a pond, small rivers, flowers and wonderful paths that make you think you are in Kyoto rather than Yokohama.
Sankeien Garden is well-known both for its scenic beauty and its seasonal events. In the early summer, they hold a firefly viewing event. A walk among the rich greenery of the garden and its historical sites while gazing at the soft light of the fireflies is something that you just have to experience.
Sankeien Garden was built by Hara Sankei, a prosperous businessman from the Meiji period (1868-1912) and opened to the public in 1904. Among the historic buildings exhibited in the park are an elegant daimyo (feudal lord) residence, several tea houses, and the three-storied pagoda of Kyoto's old Tomyoji Temple.
For more details on Sankeien Garden, please refer to our article: Enjoy Matcha Tea in the Heart of Sankeien Garden, Yokohama
The best place to see the fireflies in Sankeien is around the riverbank of the Kogawa river. Firefly cages are being placed inside the Kyu-Tomyoji, which is usually off-limits, so that the visitors can observe the fireflies up close. In order to avoid the weekend rush and allow visitors to take the time to enjoy themselves, the garden is also open on weekday nights.
For many who didn’t grow up in tropical climates, catching a glimpse of fireflies (also known as "lightning bugs") is something special. For the Japanese people, it is another occasion to hold a series of annual festivals - in Tokyo and in some smaller cities on the outskirts.
June coincides with the rainy season in Tokyo, and it is still a bit too early for fireworks and festivals where people wear traditional yukatas. While some see June as the month of the dreaded humid days and summer rains, this is also a time to see the fireflies.
Around this time, these little bugs light the night sky aglow, looking almost magical. Just as if you'd be watching a sea of little floating lanterns, this firefly viewing experience will surely leave you enchanted and happy.
Japan’s two most common types of fireflies are the Genji-botaru and Heike-botaru. With their names inspired by two rival clans in Japanese history, they symbolize the two opposite clans of the firefly world The phenomenon of fireflies emitting light is also known as "hotaru gassen" or "battle of the fireflies". It is fascinating to witness!
Fireflies are a sign of summer in Japan, and this viewing event at Yokohama's Sankeien Garden lets you see their mysterious nighttime dance in all its glory.
Captive fireflies can be observed inside the Tomyoji building on weekends, while the best spot for viewing wild specimens is around the outer garden's small river. The garden's flowers and impressive pagoda will also be lit up during the event period. It's time to grab your best camera to capture the fireflies in all their glory!
Wherever you choose to go, be mindful of the ground rules, especially in regards to photography and crowds. Please note that it is extremely important to be quiet when approaching the fireflies, and not to use flash photography. For its annual “firefly evenings” event, the garden will be open until 9:00 PM, but the organizers say that the best time to see the fireflies is from 7:30 until 9:00 PM.
They also caution that on rainy nights, the fireflies might take cover behind leaves, so it will be difficult to see them. It's recommended that you check the weather forecast beforehand.
Tomyoji, the three-storey pagoda in the garden, remains open to the public from 6:30-8:45 PM. Visitors can see there fireflies in cages, as well as images and panels about a firefly’s life cycle. Make the most of this amazing event that Sankeien Garden offers its visitors!
Venue: Sankeien Garden (Negishi Station). Take a Bus from Negishi, Sakuragicho, Yokohama, Motomachi-Chukagai Stations
Time: Usually around May 22nd - June 2nd every year. Check their website for the actual dates of firefly viewing. Last entry is at 8:30 PM on firefly viewing nights. The garden closes at 9:00 PM.
Admission: 500 yen (200 yen for children)
Website: Sankeien Garden
The period from the end of May throughout June is firefly season in Japan. Beginning with the Genji-botaru, you can spot many different varieties of fireflies near clear streams.
Firefly viewing is a time-honored tradition and one of the features of Japanese summers. It may be a little difficult to see wild fireflies in the city center, but various events all over Japan make this phenomenon a dramatic and enchanting experience.