Hunting Fireflies

Fireflies in forest


Grave of the Fireflies

The Glow of the Night

In Japan, watching the fireflies in the night-- known as hotaru-- are a well-known summer pasttime. 

Often described in Japanese literature as a magical moment of contemplation equivalent to that of watching the cherry blossoms, catching fireflies was a popular pasttime of the Japanese bourgeoisie.
This hobby, called hotaru-gari (firefly hunting), was done in the countryside, near stream. Many prints of the Edo Period (1603-1867) depict young women dressed in beautiful kimono walking under willow trees, equipped with boxes (for catching) and fans.


A Disappearing Tradition


However, today, more than just firefly "hunting" has been harming this popular pasttime. Pollution and urban development are a big threat to these luminescent insects, added to the new business of reselling fireflies for private gardens in hotels and restaurants.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to enjoy the wonder sights of these flashing lights in the night, as once enjoyed by the two young heroes of the famous movie, Grave of the Fireflies.


fireflies in mountain



Special Spots


From late May to late June, some cities still host these famous fireflies and each year organize festivals around them: the Sankeien Garden Yokohama; Expo Park in Osaka Prefecture (from May 24 to June 8 of this year); the Hotel Garden Chizanso Tokyo; and the city of Fussa (near Tokyo).

In Kyoto, they can be observed along the Philosopher's Path. Uji Park, south of the city, also has many specimens from late May to mid June.

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