If you were under the impression fireflies were only around for a few weeks and June, and that there were no fireflies in Tokyo, think again. Turns out you can view the shimmering bugs for another few weeks this summer, and the best part is, you don’t even need to leave the city. Gorgeous Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo holds an annual summer event to celebrate the passage of the critters, including an incredible buffet and access to their traditional Japanese garden.

Fireflies hold a special place in Japanese culture and they’re closely associated with the arrival of summer. Koichi Urashima, the Director and General Manager of Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo, explains that “fireflies are cherished in Japan, and they represent a symbol of beauty in the nature. Numerous poems, children songs and even literature have fireflies for a theme.”

Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo’s renowned garden became a home to fireflies back in 1954, when thousands of them were gifted to the hotel from a guest. They’ve been raised and kept in the garden ever since, and eggs are laid in incubators located in the garden. Every year, after the eggs hatch in the winter, local children from nearby elementary schools help release the fireflies in a ceremony that’s now quite famous for locals. “It’s a chance for school children to learn about fireflies,” says Urashima, “and we like to involve the community in the process.”

Although peak season for fireflies changes from year to year, Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo created an annual viewing ritual between May and late July, when guests can enjoy an elaborate buffet preceding a walk around the garden. The buffet itself is impressive, presenting a menu of over 70 different dishes the hotel’s chefs have created using seasonal ingredients.

“More than 20,000 guests enjoy our firefly viewing event each summer,” Urashima explains, “starting with a delightful buffet and followed by a stroll around the garden where they can enjoy the sight of fireflies dancing around.”

Indeed the fireflies are a truly magical sight, and the spacious grounds of the hotel garden are the perfect place to enjoy this summer-only treat. “The garden is located right in the middle of Tokyo, yet presents lots of greenery, natural spring water, fascinating insects, and majestic sights in an eco-friendly environment,” Urashima adds, ”you can forget you’re in the city.”

Fireflies Chinzanso

Chinzanso’s pagoda was imported from Hiroshima (photo courtesy of Maaserhit Honda)

This urban resort is well-known to most Tokyoites, with its hotel spa, running path and impressive pagoda imported from Hiroshima. The hotel itself presents 12 different restaurants, and is a coveted wedding venue for brides all over the country. The firefly viewing event is a one-of-a-kind summer activity, perfect for a family outing or simply to feel the nature experience without leaving the city.

Fireflies at the Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo 

More information: http://hotel-chinzanso-tokyo.jp/event/hotaru/ (Japanese only, click for reservations)

When: May 20–July 13

Where: Hotel Chinzanso (see map)

How much: ¥9,800 (adults)¥8,800 (over 65)/¥4,200 (children)/¥2,100 (under 3)

Main image: Chinzanso Hotel