Sueyoshi Park is best place to observe fireflies
By Tony Nakamoto
When I was a child, fireflies were everywhere. I chased after blinking yellow lights in the evenings trying to catch one, but I rarely made it since I was too small, but it remains one of my good memories of Okinawa’s early summers.
Now, Okinawa has developed so much that I rarely see fireflies in my neighborhood anymore, but there is one place where we can still observe swarms of fireflies. That’s Sueyoshi Park in Naha City.
Sueyoshi Park is located in the northeastern part of the city. Even though it’s just a mile away from Okinawa’s most urbanized area of Shintoshin, Sueyoshi Park is a natural oasis and habitat for various kinds of small animals and insects. Early this month, avoiding the onset of the rainy season, I set up a firefly observation tour with my friends. Just after sunset, we parked our cars on the east side of the park and ventured into the park with a small flashlight on one hand and holding my child’s hand on the other.
It’s not a well-known fact that there are 50 kinds of fireflies in Japan, and half of them live on Okinawa due to the natural diversity of the islands. In Sueyoshi Park, you can mainly observe Okinawa Suji Botaru and Kuroiwa Botaru. You can also find Okinawa Mado Botaru in its larvae stage.
I already knew Takimibashi Bridge located about 200 meters inside the park is the best place to observe, but as soon as we got onto the park’s trails, our kids found three fireflies flying just in front of them, then two more, and three more. During the walk on the trail, we saw fireflies basically everywhere.
When we got to Takimibashi, which is about 15 meters long, we heard the sound of the river that flows under the bridge. It’s the Aja River and this is the place that the fireflies actually inhabit. Until then, I had only seen three or four fireflies emitting their light at one time. When one sees dozens of fireflies blinking at one time, it’s like a Milky Way within a reachable distance.
One of participants, an elementary school boy, Hinata Shimabukuro was excited and said, “This is my first time to see fireflies. They are small but so beautiful.” As the sky got darker, fireflies gradually stopped blinking, and we finished enjoying the hour-long nature’s illumination show.
According to Mori-no-ie Min Min, a Naha City nature education facility, located in the park, the best time to watch fireflies is from 7:30 p.m. ~ 8 p.m.. In addition, they recommend that observers refrain from using insect repellant, and wear a long sleeved shirt and avoid using a flashlight too much because it can disturb fireflies from emitting their light to attract their mate.
In order to go to Sueyoshi Park, travel down Route 330 toward Naha and take a left onto Route 82. Go up on the 82 along the monorail line about a mile and take a left again towards Route 241. You can see a police box on your left. Go into the parking lot on the right side of the police box. Parking is allowed until 9 p.m.. There is some information on Min Min’s Facebook page in Japanese at https://www.facebook.com/3in3in.