Summer in Japan means different things depending on whom you talk to. For most it’s associated with stifling heat and humidity. For some, it’s an exciting time full of festivals and fun! While many know of the fireworks festivals that light up the sky during those hot summer months, not many know of the other festivals that set the night sky ablaze – welcome to the firefly festival!
Why the firefly, you ask? There are multiple theories. Some believe that they are spirits of brave warriors who fell during battle. Others believe them to be romantic. However for those in Japan they universally symbolize the beginning of summer and the festival season. It also harkens back to a time of rural Japan where the lack of modern lighting meant that fireflies were seen all over the countryside. Whatever the reason, they are quite a beautiful way to start the summer, leading up to the eagerly awaited fireworks festival at the end of the summer season.
Now there are many areas that celebrate this festival, likely more in the rural areas as noted above. So it is quite a surprise to have them in the midst of Tokyo, the land of crazy lights and even crazier amounts of people. It’s amazing that they are able to keep this tradition going. Some festivals even use tents to keep the lights out and have people view the fireflies from inside the tent. Sometimes there are even an all you can eat buffets to accompany the event. Usually, these come with entrance fees. However, for those lucky enough to be in Tokyo, be sure to check out the Botanical Garden Fureai.
This beautiful garden in the midst of bustling Shibuya holds a Firefly festival from June 17-21, 2016. The usual entrance fee is waived for the event which starts at 5 PM and lasts until 9 PM. It is quite a popular event and in years past has been known to draw up to around 10,000 participants! It is a 12-minute walk from Shibuya station, though there are also buses for those interested.
I highly recommend this event if you have never experienced it before, especially as it has the added bonus of getting into the botanical garden itself for free! So hurry to Shibuya and do not miss this opportunity. You won’t regret it!