Rainy Nights, Summer Mysteries
As spring changes to summer in Japan, there is a period of about a month when rainy, cloudy conditions persist. This transitional season is known as Tsuyu. On this episode of Journeys in Japan, we introduce some of the beautiful, mysterious natural phenomena that can be seen at this time of year, as well as an event traditionally held in rural communities across the country. The program is introduced by Michael Keida, who has a smallholding near Tokyo where he cultivates around 200 different kinds of vegetables and other crops using organic methods.

Luminescent fungi (Mount Yokogura)

A species of fungi called Shiinotomoshibitake that grows on the trunks of decaying trees has been found to emit a faint green luminescence during the period between late May and early July. One of the only places it can be seen is on Mt. Yokogura (Ochi Town, Kochi Prefecture). Ochi Town lies 50 kilometers west of Kochi City, about an hour away by car.

Fireflies (Izu Peninsula)

Fireflies can be seen in various locations around Japan from late May to early June. Firefly viewing events are held in biotope parks near Shuzenji Onsen and Amagi Onsen (Izu Peninsula, Shizuoka Prefecture). Shuzenji Onsen can be reached by train on the Izuhakone Railway.

Mushiokuri Festival (Kumano)

This festival takes place in early June at the Maruyama Senmaida rice terraces in Kumano (Mie Prefecture). After night falls, participants make their way in a procession along footpaths between the rice paddies, carrying torches and banging on drums. The aim is to drive away the insects that proliferate during the rainy season. Due to the widespread use of pesticides from the 1950s, the festival died out. But in recent years it has been revived as an event aimed at outside visitors as well as local farmers. The festival takes place each year on the first Saturday of June. The Maruyama Senmaida rice terraces in Kumano are half an hour by car from Kumanoshi Station.