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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 the loved ones, fireflies have been a recurring motif in traditional Japanese poetry and art, as well as in pop culture, such as 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 the ‘hotel in the clouds’, an oasis of magnificent nature scenery in Tokyo, is one of the very few places where one can enjoy fireflies at the heart of the metropolis.


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

This year, those who want to enjoy the magical scenery created by fireflies should visit Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo between  May 20 and July 3. However Chinzanso Garden first established itself as a prime location to view the fireflies in 1954. The hotel has been raising its own fireflies in a special facility in Nagano. Since 2000, the hotel staff has been trained by specialists in order to be able to take care of the fireflies through all the stages of their development. 

The larvae are placed by the clear stream in Chinzanso Garden early into the year in January and the insects can be seen flying on evenings from around late May. Even the quality of the water in the garden was 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 total at Chinzanso Garden annually, with around 500 or 600 insects to be spotted during peak season. 

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. It’s an ideal time to come into the garden 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!


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. This year, visitors can enjoy both the sea of clouds and fireflies in separate areas of the garden.

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.

Chinzanso Garden is beautifully lit up at night, so there is plenty to enjoy while exploring the garden after dark. In addition, an original display of traditional bamboo basket lights can be viewed during this season along the alley behind the Three-Story Pagoda. These lights are a traditional craft passed down for generations in Japan in regions famous for bamboo cultivation. They add an idyllic charm to the garden that may bring up childhood memories.


How to Enjoy Firefly Viewing at Chinzanso Garden

The garden of Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo can be accessed by hotel guests, restaurant patrons, or visitors shopping for special gifts and souvenirs at the hotel shop.

During the firefly season of early summer, the hotel hosts the Evening of Fireflies Dinner Buffet, where visitors can enjoy a festive dinner prepared by hotel chefs. 

This year’s  Evening of Fireflies Dinner Buffet menu celebrates the hotel’s 70th anniversary as well as firefly season.  It includes both traditional and popular items such as roast beef and seafood. There is also a kid’s corner featuring sweets and kid-friendly meals. 

 This year’s festivities also includes the Tokyo Sea of Clouds Restaurant, a special dining experience that pairs beautiful meals with views of the magnificent sea of clouds. From May 20 to July 3, guests can dine on French specialties such as corn mousse, caramelized onions and shellfish in herbed butter, and butter-roasted sardines with olive and anchovy sauce. There is also an edible sea of clouds, a special amuse buche to celebrate the early summer season. Dinner runs from 18:00-19:30, but please note that times may change depending on the day. 

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 your afternoon teatime at any of these facilities and you can stop in 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 the day and 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 Firefly Evening Dinner Selection but only 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 Tokyo nature spot between May 21 and June 27 is a chance to enjoy the light that exists in nature in its various manifestations. This soothing scenery will surely lift our spirits, filling us with joy and courage to look forward to the following seasons.


Updated on April 15, 2022