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Firefly Viewing at Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo: The Magic of Early Summer

Fireflies are a beloved feature of early summer in Japan, with many people making it a point to visit rivers surrounded by greenery just to catch a glimpse of their soothing lights. Associated with the souls of the departed and inspiring thoughts of loved ones, fireflies are a recurring motif in traditional Japanese poetry and art, as well as in pop culture, such as in the 1988 animated film “Grave of the Fireflies.”

Fireflies can only be spotted around clear streams in nature-rich, tranquil areas. That is why it’s so wondrous to see them in Tokyo! The garden of Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo, which is now gathering attention as an oasis of magnificent nature in Tokyo, is one of the very few places where one can enjoy fireflies in the heart of the metropolis.

Firefly Viewing at Chinzanso Garden, a Famous Nature Spot in Tokyo

Those who want to enjoy the magical scenery created by fireflies should visit Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo in the early months of summer. Chinzanso Garden first established itself as a prime location to view fireflies in 1954. The hotel has been raising its own fireflies in a special facility in Nagano for many years, and since 2000, the hotel staff has been trained by specialists in order to take care of the fireflies through all the stages of their development. 

The larvae are placed by the clear stream in Chinzanso Garden in January and the insects can be seen flying in the evenings from late May. Even the quality of the water in the garden has been adapted so that it can accommodate the fireflies. 

The firefly species that can be seen in Chinzanso Garden is Luciola cruciata, called “genji-botaru” in Japanese. These fireflies are large in size and emit a bright green light. Around 10,000 fireflies can be seen in Chinzanso Garden annually, while 500 to 600 insects can be spotted during peak season. 

If you are a hotel guest, restaurant patron, or a visitor shopping for gifts and souvenirs at the hotel shop, you have full access to the garden of Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo. To see the fireflies, visit the area around the Benkei Bridge in Chinzanso Garden. They can be spotted along the river between the bridge and the old watermill located downstream. The best time to see them is between 19:30 and 21:00, after dining at one of the restaurants in the precincts. Finding yourself surrounded by hundreds of fireflies that bright up the night, with their twinkling lights, is a breathtaking experience!


About This Year’s Firefly Event 

The 2024 Firefly event takes place from May 17 to June 30. 

During the firefly season, the hotel hosts the Firefly Evenings Dinner Buffet, a sumptuous event that allows visitors to enjoy firefly viewing along with a festive dinner prepared by the hotel chefs.

The menu differs every year, but what remains unchanged is its quality and incredible array of dishes. Guests can choose from Japanese, Chinese and Western cuisine, allowing everyone of all ages to fill their plates with their dishes of choice. 

Please visit the event page for further information, where you can find the annual Firefly Evenings Dinner Buffet dates, bookings, and fees, as well as menu details. 


This Year’s Firefly Evenings Dinner Buffet Details


Other Garden Highlights to Enjoy During Firefly Season

The sea of clouds was added as a feature to Chinzanso Garden in October 2020. Several times a day, the garden is shrouded in mist– a view that reminds one of majestic mountain peaks. Visitors can enjoy the surreal scenery created by firefly lights and the sea of clouds combined. The particles of mist enhance the mysterious green lights, resulting in a sight that can rarely be enjoyed elsewhere.

On rainy days, the fireflies can be enjoyed from the corridor behind the Gojo Waterfall of Yusuichi Pond. They fly into a cave biotope that recreates their natural habitat.

Annual Garden Display

bamboo lantern

Chinzanso Garden is beautifully lit up at night, so there is plenty more to enjoy while exploring the garden after dark. 

This year, visitors have the special opportunity to see a limited-time takeakari bamboo lantern display that coincides with firefly season. The 25-meter path from the garden’s water wheel to Japanese restaurant Mokushundo is lined with 40 bombori bamboo lanterns and 14 takemari bamboo ornaments. The bamboo lanterns continue into the camellia and moss garden, located behind the pagoda, as well as the Serenity Garden on the hotel’s fifth floor. They add an idyllic charm to the garden that may bring up childhood memories. 


More Ways to Enjoy Firefly Viewing at Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo

The restaurants and other dining facilities of Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo also offer special seasonal menus. If you wish to enjoy an exquisite kaiseki dinner surrounded by the lush greenery of Chinzanso Garden, visit Ryotei Kinsui. For delicious Japanese cuisine in a charming interior with garden views, we recommend dining at Miyuki. Western cuisine prepared with seasonal ingredients can be enjoyed at Il Teatro (Italian cuisine) or The Bistro (casual dining).


Lobby Lounge Le Jardin is well-known for its elegant Afternoon Tea menu that changes every season. Enjoy dinner or afternoon tea at any of these facilities, and stop by the garden afterward to take in the magnificent scenery created by the fireflies and the sea of clouds.

Staying guests can enjoy the fireflies at leisure in the evening after dinner, and then relax in their rooms with a view of the lit-up garden. Viewing the sea of clouds at different times of day and experiencing the vibrant fresh greenery of early summer will add to the unforgettable charm of your stay. (Please be aware that the fireflies cannot be seen from the hotel rooms, restaurants, or the venue of the Evening of Fireflies Dinner Buffet, and can only be seen  in the designated area of the garden.)

As a precaution, please avoid using insect repellents when visiting the garden to view the fireflies. Also, please refrain from touching or hurting the fireflies.

“Light” seems to be the theme of early summer at Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo. A visit to this famous nature spot in Tokyo is a chance to enjoy the light that exists in nature in its various forms. This soothing atmosphere will surely lift your spirits, filling you with joy and encouraging you to look forward to the following seasons.

Updated on February 7,2024