In Japan, the beginning of spring is famously marked by the arrival of pink cherry blossoms. And in summer, there’s an equally beautiful phenomenon. June and July is firefly (or hotaru) season, when many people flock to rural areas and forests to catch a glimpse of the bioluminescent bugs. Japanese photographer Usadadanuki witnessed the magical event and shared his fantastic images online.
In Japanese culture, fireflies are thought to be the souls of soldiers who died in war. During hot summer nights, thousands of insects fly across the landscape while their lights illuminate the scene. However, since fireflies inhabit only clean streams, their numbers have been decreasing in recent years due to pollution. That’s why many photographers, including Usadadanuki, are particularly keen to capture the mesmerizing event.
Photographing fireflies is no easy feat, but Usadadanuki managed to capture their fleeting movements using the long exposure technique. The resulting, atmospheric images look like something from a real-life Studio Ghibli film. The soft-bodied beetles appear as otherworldly flashes of light that seem to dance through forest floors, rivers, temples, and shrines.