Summer Tradition In Japan: Firefly Watching!


What do you remember as a seasonal tradition of summer in your country? Today, I’m going to talk about the firefly which is known as the seasonal tradition of the early summer in Japan. Not only a firefly watching, there are many things related with the name of firefly such as poems, songs, and movies.  It is a familiar insect in Japan.

In Japanese culture, people tend to look for the beauty from the fragile thing or short-life insect, something like a moment of brilliance. Cherry blossom is a good example. People love its beauty, but also love to feel the transience of cherry blossom. See Japan cherry blossom here.

Further to the beauty of glowing dimly in the darkness, Japanese people also treasure the shortness of the activity period of firefly. This made firefly as popular as beetle in Japan.

What kind of fireflies can we see in Japan?

There are about 40 kinds species of fireflies inhabit Japan. However, Luciola cruciata and Luciola lateralis, these are the synonym of firefly in Japan and they are mainly seen in summer.


Luciola cruciata, which I’ve seen in Kitakyushu, mainly found in Kyushu (九州), Shikoku (四国) and Honshu (本州). Because they inhabit only clear streams, environmental protection has been carried out in order to protect firefly and also for town revitalization.

An adult of Luciola cruciata is about 1.5 cm, and has a black pattern of the cross-shaped on its chest. Period of adult is only about two or three weeks. Varies by region, but it appears from May to July. Fireflies rest on grass shade during the daytime and start the activities at night.

Let’s go to Katsuki-Kurokawa firefly festival!

This time, I visited the firefly festival of Kurokawa river in Kitakyushu (北九州) that has many “Luciola cruciata”.

Katsuki-Kurokawa firefly festival (香月・黒川ほたる祭り) is a local festival to be held every year by the firefly protection group of the region. As the environmental conservation activities in Katsuki district, it’s been regularly performed such as cleaning and weeding of Kurokawa river (黒川), and the breeding Semisulcospira (kind of snails), which is food for firefly. Kurokawa river is known as the spot of firefly in Kitakyushu. You can see about 5000 fireflies from late May through early June every year.

I’ll show you the way to get to the firefly festival from JR Kurosaki station (JR黒崎駅). To get to this JR Kurosaki station from JR Hakata station (JR博多駅) in Fukuoka, take JR Kagoshima line (JR鹿児島線). s-P5310341

After arrived at JR Kurosaki station, we have to change the train to Chikuho Railway (筑豊電鉄). Get out from the south gate of JR Kurosaki station and you will find an escalator leading to the platform of Chikuho Railway.

(You can also take a Nishitetsu bus from Kurosakiekimae-fureaidori bus stop (黒崎駅前ふれあい通り) to Kinsuibashi bus stop (錦水橋) to the festival. It takes about 40 min, 480 yen.)s-P5310342

The platform of Chikuho Railway. It looks retro train, but don’t underestimate him. We can even use IC cards to pay the fare. *See the link page (in the mid) what kind of IC cards can use in Kyushu.s-P5310345

We can also buy tickets by the vending machine in below photo. The fare to the station “Chikuho-Katsuki (筑豊香月)” is 370 yen for an adult, 190 yen for children.s-P5310346

After 20 minutes, arrived at Chikuho-Katsuki station. From here, we have to walk along the Kurokawa riverside about 16 min to the point which fireflies start to show up.s-P5310347s-WS000002

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After you pass the Sanjyobashi (三条橋), you might start to see some of fireflies. You can see fireflies between Sanjyobashi to Ishizakabashi (石坂橋).

*(If you used Nishitetsu bus, it arrives Kinsuibashi (錦水橋) bus stop in the mid of the map below. So you don’t have to walk that 16 min if you use a bus. I might use this bus next time.) s-WS00002

Around 8:00 p.m. People gathered and waited for fireflies to start to emit light.s-P5310354

There were some food stalls as well. s-P5310348

Found them! Can you see fireflies below photo? Where? They are in the middle of the photo. It was still just a few of them, but they were finally started to glow.s-P5310357

As time goes little by little, the more fireflies showed up.s-P5310366s-P5310379

It’s a little difficult to see them in those photos. I think it is because of my camera. I’m not poor at taking a photo….sorry, I am.s-P5310412

There were not so many fireflies on this day. However, we can enjoy the dance of fireflies until 10:00 p.m. Fireflies fly 3 times during the night (around 8:00 p.m, midnight, 3:00 a.m), but 8:00 p.m. is said to be the best time.   s-P5310419 s-P5310421

Season of Firefly: Late May to early June. (20:00 – 22:00)
Area: Kurokawa river: Ishizakabashi (石坂橋) to Sanjyobashi (三条橋)
Firefly: Luciola cruciata


Katsuki-Kurokawa Firefly Festival infomation
Event date: Saturday and Sunday between late May and early June. *The date is different every year. Pls check this web site before visit (in Japanese only). 
Address: 1, Kamikatsuki, Yahatanishi-ku, Kitakyushu-shi, Fukuoka / 福岡県北九州市八幡西区上香月1
Access from JR Kurosaki station (JR黒崎駅):
Nishitetsu bus: Taka a Nishitetsu bus from Kurosakiekimae-fureaidori bus stop (黒崎駅前ふれあい通り) to Kinsuibashi bus stop (錦水橋) about 40 min, 480 yen.
Chikuho-Railway: Take a train from Kurosaki station to Chikuho-Katsuki station (筑豊香月), 20 min, 370 yen. Then walk about 16 min to the area of firefly.
Parking information: Sugimamo shrine 150 cars (杉守神社), Katsuki-central park 200 cars (香月中央公園). These parkings are available only for during the festival.
*Note: There will be traffic regulation between Kinsuibashi (金水橋) to Kamikatsukibashi (上香月橋) from 7:00 p.m. to 9 p.m. during festival.

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