The Firefly Festival is one of the less known festivals in Tokyo. It takes place in Boroichi-dori, Setagaya-ku. It is a small local event where Japanese celebrate the summer season.
If you decide to join in the celebrations, you might be the only foreigner there. Most of the participants do not speak English, so it is better to have a dictionary with you, just in case you get lost. The best time to go is at night. The fireflies' glow is much more visible in the darkness. The festival is split into two parts. One is a narrow market lane, leading to the main stage. The second one is a charming little garden where the firefly show takes place. This area is organised into a few garden alleys, decorated with dim yellow lights set by the curb. Around every corner there is a cage full of gleaming insects. The outline of the cage is invisible in the darkness and all you can see, are radiant streaks of fluorescent light floating in the night air. It is hypnotizing. Those little live lamps seem to be from a different world. They look like fairy tale creatures.
The garden path continues to a big black tent. Inside, there is a deep gloom, illuminated by hundreds of flying lights. The experience is truly mesmerizing. Other attractions of the festival are numerous stalls with traditional food, sweets, flowers and manga. Among the displayed plants you can find a special type of orchid- sagiso. It is the official flower of Setagaya Ward with the height of its bloom between mid-July and mid-August. On the main stage there are musicians playing massive Japanese drums, called taiko, with dancers graciously moving to the traditional music. The Japanese dressed in festive kimonos gather around the stage and follow the dancers' movements. They all continue in a synchronised motion, circling the stage. The show is a beautiful mix of colours against the warm light of hanging lanterns. When walking through the market lanes try mizuame ("water candy")- traditional Japanese confectionery, very popular at summer festivals. It is made from candied fruits (apples, cherries, peaches, plums or citrus fruits) covered in a thick, transparent sugar glaze.