Nagoya’s Magical Summer Fireflies

ByBert Wishart
May 17, 2021

Nagoya’s Magical Summer Fireflies

With the rainy season and the humidity ramping up like an overly-confident Evil Knievel, June is perhaps one of the least favored months in Japan. However, with that said, this combination of conditions is precisely what is required for one of the more beautiful, natural sights: the glow of the firefly.

In her 1002 CE book Makura no Soshi (The Pillow Book), Sei Shōnagon, a retainer to Empress Consort Teishi, mused how elegant one feels when surrounded by the summer’s fireflies. But this fascination is not solely the preserve of ladies of Heian period courts, but to this day, in Japan, as much as spring means cherry blossoms, summer means fireflies.

For many Japanese, the viewing of fireflies has a nostalgic effect, casting their minds back to childhoods, perhaps sitting on their grandparents’ porch, watching them dance in the dusk as in these opening credits for popular TV show Hotaru no Hikari (Glow of the Butterfly), or of this elementary school song of the same name, popularized in the Meiji era to the tune of Auld Lang Syne.

For many children living in Nagoya, the bright lights and the hustle and bustle of the city mean that their chances to see these beautiful insects light up in the night skies are limited. It is for this reason that around the city firefly festivals (Hotaru Matsuri) are held at this time of year, when the mating seasons of the two types of firefly indigenous to the country, the genji-botaru and heike-botaru (for some reason named after rivaling clans during the Heian period) is in full swing.

These spots are great opportunities for children to convene with nature and enjoy the delights of this typical Japanese pastime while creating memories that they will cherish for a lifetime.  Below are a few places to which you may want to bring your children for an exciting evening or enjoy yourselves as adults. Some of these locations will hold festivals in a normal year, but you can still turn up to see the fireflies festival or no!

Firefly in Nagoya

Nagoya Castle Outer Moat

Where better than to experience this most Japanese of activities than in front of this, the most Japanese buildings in the city.

  • Where: Honmaru, Naka-ku (map)
  • When: Late May to early June
  • Contact: 052-231-1700

Gokoku Jinja

Just a stone’s throw from the castle is Gokoku Jinja, and here too, you can see the fireflies glow at this small shrine.

  • Where: 1 Chome-7-3 Sannomaru, Naka-ku (map)
  • When: Late May to early June
  • Contact: 052-201-8078

Kosho-ji Koen Tombo-ike

Kosho-ji in Yagato is one of the more spectacular Buddhist shrines in Nagoya, and each year near the So-mon gate, it holds a Hosho-e ceremony, releasing animals into the wild. The summer event, at which from 20:15 children will release fireflies, teaches youngsters to respect the lives of all living creatures.

  • Where: 78 Yagotohonmachi, Showa-ku (map)
  • When: June 9, 2018
  • Contact: 052-832-2801

Obata Ryokuchi Hotaru no Sato

There are  both genji-botaru and heike-botaru fireflies here at Obata Ryokuchi Greens Park. Just inside the main (honen) entrance to the park, you will find details of where best to see the fireflies and an explanation of their habitat.

  • Where: Higashiyama – 1632-1 Yama, Moriyama-ku (map)
  • When: Early June
  • Contact: 052-791-9492, 052-793-2491

Aioiyama Ryokuchi

The best time for seeing the fireflies out at Aoiyama Ryokuchi is after 21:00, so it may be a little late for younger children.

  • Where: Tenpaku-ku, Sugeta, 3 Chome (map)
  • When: Late May to early June
  • Contact: 052-803-6644

By Mark Guthrie

Photo: by 小明 黃  (CC BY-SA 2.0) via

Photo: by Windslash  (CC BY-SA 2.0) via

About the author

Bert Wishart editor

Novelist, copywriter and graduate from the most prestigious university in Sunderland, Bert whiles away his precious time on this Earth by writing about popular culture, travel, food and pretty much anything else that is likely to win him the Pulitzer he desperately craves.

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