A relaxing way to experience an elegant early summer tradition.

Every summer, the night skies in Japan are lit up by fantastic fireworks festivals. Most of these take place in July and August, during the summer vacation periods for schools and companies, but June brings a nighttime illumination of a softer sort with the arrival of the fireflies.

Fireflies can be found across Japan in early summer, congregating in places where there’s a proper mix of foliage and water. Their enchanting glow has a calming effect, which makes watching fireflies a great activity to indulge in on the same night as staying in a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn), and the following four all have special packages to mark firefly season.

1. Tsubaki (Kanagawa Prefecture)

Hakone is the Tokyo area’s most famous onsen (hot spring) resort, but the coastal town of Yugawara offers a less crowded and touristy alternative. The garden and ponds of Yugawara’s Tsubaki inn offer excellent firefly viewing opportunities, and from June 8 to 23 they offer a special Firefly Evening extra amenity package with a selection of chilled sake, folding fans to cool yourself with and take home, and even fireworks sets for kids.

2. Hoshi no Ya Kyoto (Kyoto Prefecture)

Tucked away in the mountains of Kyoto’s Arashiyama district, Hoshi no Ya sits next to the Oi River. Away from the din and lights of the city, the waterway is a gathering place for fireflies, and on the nights of June 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, and 16, the inn is offering a hotarugari (firefly viewing) package in which staff will guide guests down to the river after sundown, carrying special lanterns so that you can watch your step without unnecessary brightness scaring off the fireflies.

3. Yutoriro Tsuwano (Shimane Prefecture)

Sometimes, you’ll need to head a little farther away from your inn to see the glowing stars of the season. Yutoriro Tsuwano, the only natural hot spring inn in the historical town of Tsuwano, will transport guests participating in its firefly viewing package (available between June 8 and 20) to a local viewing spot following dinner, with enough time after your return for one more soak before you hit the sack.

4. Kagari Kisshotei (Ishikawa Prefecture)

Kagari Kisshotei, in the hot spring town of Kaga, is plenty beautiful in the daytime, with its riverside onsen bath and cafe. As with Yutoriro Tsuwano, though, fireflies can be found in the local forests and fields, and between now and June 15 it also offers a firefly viewing package where the inn staff will escort you to a local viewing spot at night.

Like cherry blossom season, the viewing window for fireflies is tight. A nighttime stroll to see their soft green light is something that people in Japan have been enjoying since the Heian period (794 to 1185), however, so it’s definitely worth working into your travel schedule.

Related: Tsubaki, Hoshi no Ya Kyoto, Yutoriro Tsuwano, Kagari Kisshotei
Source: PR Times (1, 2, 3, 4)
Top image: PR Times
Insert images: PR Times (1, 2, 3, 4)
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