Firefly Festival in Tokyo

Summer celebration and local markets

By Kasia Szumna    - 2 min read

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.

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.

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Kasia Szumna

Kasia Szumna @katarzynakasia.szumna

Unique Japanese culture and its stunning art had always have a special place in Kasia's heart. She is a photographer and a writer and has experience managing her own website, creating content and social media promotion. She lived and worked in Poland, UK, Spain, Indonesia, Japan and Australia. For more visit Instagram:

Join the discussion

Joseph Bautista 6 years ago
Been in Japan many summers but still haven't seen any fireflies, I'm gonna write this festival down on my bucket list. :)
Justin Velgus 6 years ago
They say Tokyo has almost everything. I didn't think that would mean fireflies also!