Hokubo, Maniwa City: Breathtaking View of Japanese Fireflies

Hi guys, Mrs. Wada is here, back on duty. It’s already June, half way of the year. Times flies right? Speaking of June, it is a season for firefly watching in Japan as I have mentioned in my post here. Nowadays, we don’t see fireflies anymore possibly due to habitat loss from urbanization, so I’m lucky to be able to see them by just traveling an hour from where I live.

Japanese Fireflies in Hokubo, Maniwa City: Fireflies on the moveAt Bicchuu River – Hokubo, Maniwa City

Last year I visited Takashi City in Okayama Prefecture to see fireflies for the first time. Amazed by it, I’ve been looking forward to seeing it this year again and this time we explored another place, Hokubo in Maniwa City, still within Okayama Prefecture.

Japanese Fireflies Habitat in Hokubo, Maniwa City

Hokubo, Maniwa City is an hour away from Okayama City. We arrived in Hobuko past 5 P.M. and parked in Hokubo Hotaru Park. There were still few cars in the parking area at that time. Since fireflies start to appear or be visible around 8:30 in the evening, we still have a lot of time to kill. We decided to walk our way back to the central area to get some food.

Japanese Fireflies in Hokubo, Maniwa City: Hotaru no Sato“Hotaru no Sato” (Home of the Fireflies) sign – on the way to Hokubo Hotaru Park

Japanese Fireflies in Hokubo, Maniwa City: River

The river is mostly covered with grasses, which is a perfect habitat for fireflies. The water flows on the right side, not visible in this photo. Many lamp stands are installed on the riverside.

Japanese Fireflies in Hokubo, Maniwa City: Hotaru Road

Not too far from the Hokubo Hotaru Park is the central area. We passed this road on the way to the park. There are some food stalls organized by local residents just for this season. We bought yakitori (grilled chicken) and yakisoba for our dinner. There are traditional Japanese hotels also in this area.

Japanese Fireflies in Hokubo, Maniwa City: Food stands

We went back to the park and had our dinner. At around 7 P.M., the parking area is already full and many people are waiting on standby at the riverside. Just take a look at those people standing on the bridge in the picture below.

Japanese Fireflies in Hokubo, Maniwa City: People on standy

We went down closer to the river to look for a spot. It’s where we met this woman who kindly taught us the camera setting for shooting fireflies. I totally forgot to research about it beforehand. So, we were really glad to have met her.

Camera Settings for Shooting Fireflies

Here’s the information the woman taught us:
– Set shutter speed to 35 seconds
– Set aperture to the lowest possible value. (With my camera, I can only set minimum of F3.5.)

She also said something about distance and focus, but I couldn’t understand well. I was just guessing the entire time about it.

Japanese Fireflies Shots

Japanese Fireflies in Hokubo, Maniwa City: Fireflies on the move

Japanese Fireflies in Hokubo, Maniwa City: Fireflies on the move

Japanese Fireflies in Hokubo, Maniwa City: Fireflies on the move

Those are the best shots I could take. It’s really difficult to take pictures of fireflies especially without a tripod. I actually did brought a tripod but somehow I lost the part that holds the camera. So I have to hold it and keep still for 30 seconds every time I take photo and wait more for saving.

Breathtaking Fireflies Experience

It was amazing to see a large number of fireflies flying and blinking together just a few meters away. A magical moment. We were so captivated with the breathtaking view that we got lost track of time. It was already past 10:30 P.M.

When we left, there were still many fireflies flying. We bid farewell to the woman we’ve met. She said fireflies will be active again from 11 P.M., so she’s planning to stay longer to get good shots.

More Information

Below is the walking directions from the main street to Hotaru Park. This almost 2-kilometer long area of the Bicchuu River is the spot where fireflies can be seen.

If you are here in Japan now, I highly recommend to visit these places and experience the magical moment with fireflies with your own eyes. For information about where to find these places, you can check Jalan’s firefly information page here (Japanese only).

Just a favor, please keep in mind the following during firefly watching:

– Do not use flash when taking photos.
– Do not capture the fireflies.
– Do not step into the river.
– Make sure to take your garbage with you when you leave the area.

Do you still see fireflies in the area where you live? Share with us your fireflies experience.

Hokubo Maniwa Website
Jalan – Firefly Watching Spots


You may want to check these out as well!
Bike Trail at Kibi Plain
Strawberry Picking in Okayama
Ajisai Festival at Kibitsu Shrine, Okayama City
Hinase Oyster Festival
Okayama Kyobashi Morning Market


19 Replies to “Hokubo, Maniwa City: Breathtaking View of Japanese Fireflies”

    1. Hi Abi! Do you live nearby Nagasaki Station? It seems there is one spot in Nishiyama Dam, Kobamachi area. From JR Nagasaki Station, you can take Nagasaki Ken-ei Bus towards the dam and get off at Nishiyama Koba bus stop (around 20 minutes). Then walk towards the Kobamachi Community Center. I hope you can still make it, based on the information in rurubu website, the period for watching fireflies there is from mid-May to early June.
      Here’s a map direction: https://goo.gl/maps/3KYjZ
      Rurubu page: http://www.rurubu.com/season/summer/hotaru/detail.aspx?SozaiNo=420001

  1. Wow awesome posting!!! We just moved to Okayama prefecture this April so this’ll be or first summer! I’ve never seen fireflies, I am sooooo excited!!! Thank you for the tips! Have you explores other spots recently???

  2. I found your site while trying to find the location of a firefly festival I went to five years ago in Okayama. It was one of the most magical experiences of my life! I grew up with fireflies all around (in New Hampshire, USA), but having lived in Japan for only 8 months at the time, the festival was so exotic and mystical to me. One of my favorite memories of Japan! Thank you for sharing this!

    1. Thank you for your comment. Is it the same place you visited? We just went there again last night and it was a perfect time to visit. Indeed it is magical! Even after watching it for about 3 hours, I still couldn’t get enough of it. It is a very special experience. I’ll be posting about it soon, you might like to check it out. 🙂

Leave a Reply