Fireflies used to be seen everywhere in the country, but now we only have few opportunities to see this delightful insect due to the drastic changes in our environment. Fireflies, which fly around emitting pale light, are beetles of the family Lampyridae in the order Coleoptera. Although the larva may overwinter for two or three seasons before metamorphosing into adults, it lives for only ten days after reaching adulthood.
The activities to protect and preserve firefly habitats have been done in many areas in Kagawa Prefecture. The water ways dedicated to the protection of fireflies are constructed in some area. Therefore, you can see Genji-botaru (Luciola cruciata) and Heike-botaru (Luciola lateralis) in many places. Some of the famous firefly viewing places include Kandani Shrine in Sakaide City and the area around the Koto River in Takamatsu City. Some towns hold Firefly Festival in June.
The Banjo River is the main stream of the Banjo water system in the southern area of Oita Prefecture. The river extends 38km from its source at Mt Haitate to the mouth of Saiki Bay.
There are several theories as to the origin of the river's name. One, is that it's named for a master carpenter named Banjo Toryo Masuemon, who came from Nara and built the Banjo Bridge. Another possible origin is from the name and the shape of Banjo Gane, which was given by the Imperial court to the person in charge of construction. There was also a village called Kawabe-no-Banjo near Saiki castle, which may also be the origin of the name.
In the Edo period, large-scale construction took place to create the four canals of the Saiki domain, which helped the domain's economy.
The Banjo River is one of the major clearwater streams in Kyushu. Its rich ecosystem includes fireflies, kingfishers and crested kingfishers.
The Banjo River festival is held every year in July at the town of Yayoi, and the Cosmos festival takes place in October. These festivals are very familiar to the people who live by the Banjo River.
Jochu-ji Temple is the site of the tomb to the first Yoshinao of the Otomo clan, an ancestor of Sorin Otomo, a Christian feudal lord of the clan. Sorin Otomo conquered the six countries of Kyushu (Bungo, Bunzen, Chikugo, Chikuzen, Higo and Hizen) during the Warring States period.
Jochu-ji Temple is the family temple of Akitsura Betsuki, who was the leading general of the Sorin Family, as well as a lord of the Yoroidake. It is said that Akitsura was partially paralyzed after being struck by lightning. Despite this, he continued to command his army, but from a 'koshi' (a cart-like vehicle).
At one point, the temple was demolished but was later restored by Yoshiteru Honda between 1704 and 1710. A fire destroyed the temple once more, but it was again restored to its present state in 1806 by the great-grandchild of Yoshiteru.
Over 40 types of water iris have been planted at the temple and, every May, the Jochu-ji Temple iris festival takes place. People can also appreciate fireflies here on summer nights.
Hakusan River includes the Nakatsumure and Okubata rivers. Its water is included among Japan's top 100 waters as well as top 100 village waters.
The ravine formed by these rivers features a rock called Hoge-Iwa, which legend has it was cut from the cliff by an ogre. There is also a limestone cave, something rare in Japan, called Ineseki, which is said to have been formed about 200,000 years ago. The cave took its present shape when the area was submerged following the erupting of Mt Aso 85,000 years ago.
Other natural features in the area are Ayukaeri no Taki, a V-shaped waterfall that descends through a continuous series of seven falls, as well as the 30m-high waterfall called Shikaotoshi no Taki. In summer, the appearance of thousands of fireflies makes a glorious view. The water is suitable for drinking. In the open space beside the ravine is a cenotaph bestowed by an Oita general for the attainment of the water.
Ogata Iro is a watercourse that was once used for irrigation and that passes through the town of Ogata in Oita Prefecture.
The upper part of Ogata Iro was constructed in 1645 and the lower part in 1671, giving the watercourse its present shape. This agricultural watercourse was a lifeline from the mid-Edo period to the 1960s as it irrigated the fields belonging to the Ogata clan.
At one time the watercourse became polluted with domestic waste, but following a cleanup program in 1985, it even became a place used by children for swimming from the 1990s. Also, after the cleanup, fireflies started to appear. The watercourse and the watermill create a refreshing watery scene.
Ashitsuki Park is located in Takaoka City, Toyama prefecture. It was selected as one of the 100 Homes for Life by the Natural Protection Division of the Environment Agency. This selection is aimed at the protection and recovery of small familiar animals and their living environment.
The protected living things in Ashitsuki Park are the Genji-firefly and the Heike-firefly. Since Showa 46, Nakata Elementary School and the Nakata District Protection Association have carried out protection activities, which have been highly valued.
In olden times, the firefly was loved as a feature of early summer, but as the water quality of the streams that the firefly larvae live in gets dirtier and the waterside environment changes, so the situation gets worse and it becomes more difficult to see fireflies. In this park, however, you can see the fireflies' bright lights in June, which let us know that summer is coming.
Misato Firefly is the general term for the fireflies around Misato Yoshinogawa, in Tokushima Prefecture.
Not only these fireflies, but the whole district of Misato have been designated as a National Natural Treasure. Five kinds of firefly have been confirmed as native to this area, including the Genji Firefly (both sexes of which give off a strong light) and the Heike Firefly (which develops in larval form underwater).
When the Japanese think of a firefly, they first imagine the Genji Firefly, most representative of Japanese fireflies.
Fireflies have often appeared as a subject for haiku poems, songs and idioms. The sight of fireflies is still an image of spring.
The imagoes of fireflies show up in Misato from the end of May to the end of June and fly in groups casting light around the river at night. At the best time, numerous males synchronise their flashes, making an extraordinary view.