If you are in the Fukuoka City area during early to mid June and want to have a genuinely magical firefly viewing experience, an overnight stay in the countryside town of Nogata-shi is an awesome experience!
Nogata-shi lies at the foot of Mt. Fukuchi. The hour and a half train ride from Hakata Station winds through farms, flooded rice paddies and thickly forested mountains. Glimpses of cottage gardens, farmers in traditional garb and ancient village shrines stream past as you chug up into the surrounding area.
The north-west part of Nogata has a quaint little town atmosphere. Its roads meander up through rice fields, ancient ponds, bamboo forest and breathtaking scenery into the surrounding countryside mountains. Everywhere are mountain streams bubbling over rocks and flowing down into the rice paddies.
During late spring and early summer the Hydrangea bushes come into bloom adding bright pinks, blues, purples and sometimes rainbow colors to the lush green countryside. From river banks to cottage gardens, beside ancient farm houses and everywhere in between Hydrangea bushes bursting with huge, brightly colored flower tops add a fairy-tale like appearance to the already beautiful Japanese countryside.
The road leading to Ryuokyo Campsite and waterfall area is lined with huge hydrangea bushes. Here is where the cool, clean waters flow down from the mountain and into the river where the fireflies make their home. Just one of many rivers in the area that are home to this magical little insect for a very short period of time during the early to mid part of June. Fireflies only live for 7-10 days and viewing time is very short. Throughout history the mysterious firefly, or hotaru as they are called in Japanese, have been a hallmark symbol of the beginning of the Japanese summer. The tradition of firefly watching is still very much alive in Japan, especially in the Japanese countryside!
Photo: さちどん(体調ちょっと不良中) on photozouAround eight o’clock in the evening amid the songs of a thousand croaking frogs, they come floating mysteriously from their woodland home--hundreds of fireflies lilting and floating through the trees. Spinning and diving over the river and landing--everywhere!
There are other places to stop along the road to witness this ethereal event. Newly planted and flooded rice paddies run right up to the woodlands. It is along the border of the woodlands that you will see them wafting between bamboo trees, darting in and out bits of mist curling at the edge of rice paddies. It is truly a fairy-tale like experience and will bring out the child in just about anyone.
Not far from the firefly viewing area sits a fantastic little restaurant named WABISUKE.
Wabisuke: a one-hundred year old old farmhouse that was lovingly restored by its owner.
The owner of Wabisuke
Huge log beams as well as traditional Japanese interior add to the old-world atmosphere.
Lunch set prices are reasonable at just 1,700 yen per person! A reservation is needed so please call one day in advance. English is limited but a simple request for a reservation is understood.
Address: 4421 Kamitonno, Nogatashi Fukuoka
Nogata train station is set near the older part of the city directly across from the bus station and the traditional arcade, a covered shopping area. The arcade offers several small restaurants and shops selling various items. It’s a fun place to wander around and explore or grab something to eat. There is also a small coffee shop that sells delicious pastries and sandwiches located on the corner of the train station building.
There are two business hotels in Nogatashi:
The Plaza Hotel: 0949-28-1231
Hotel AZ Fukuoka Nogata: 0949-26-4401
Click here for a map to their locations. Both have reasonable rates and restaurants located within the facility.
Looking at the map from Nogata Station we cross the Hinode-ohashi Bridge and following the road up a bit until we get to road number 28--shown as a thin blue line on your map. Follow that all the way up to the Ryuokyo Campsite. Approximate travel time by car from Nogata Station to Ryuokyo Campsite is about 15 minutes. Hotel staff can give you the best information concerning car rentals in the area and can help you to arrange taxi service and a community bus, however the bus only runs during daytime hours.
For train time and schedule use HYPERDIA. The JR Fukuoka Yutaka Line takes you from Hakata to Nogata and back.