Originally written for the Vol.5-No.1 edition (April 8, 2011) of the Toyama Hot News e-newsletter.
For Toyama, one sign of spring is the start of hotaruika (firefly squid) season. From April 9th to May 5th, sightseeing boats in the City of Namerikawa will take customers out to Toyama Bay for the opportunity to see the glow of firefly squid up close.
Firefly squid are a small species of squid that are only 4 to 6 cm (about 2 in.) long, and have over a thousand bioluminescent organs on their bodies that emit a magical blue-white light. Although they can be caught in other places, Toyama Bay is the only place where large numbers of firefly squid gather near the shore. Roughly 15 km (over 9 mi.) of this coast is designated by Japan as a Special Natural Monument.
The sightseeing boat leaves at 3:00am, and visitors are able to watch firefly squid being caught. When the squid come in contact with the nets, the stimulation causes them to emit light, creating a mysterious glow that spreads over the surface of the sea. On the way back, visitors can even see the beautiful sunrise over the Tateyama Mountain Range.
Another way to see the firefly squid is at the Firefly Squid Museum, which offers a firefly “show” that runs through late May. In their special water tank, a net is pulled to reveal living, shining firefly squid. There is also a spring where sea water from 333 meters (1000 feet) deep is pumped up, and visitors can directly touch firefly squid and other sea creatures.
Firefly squid are truly unique creatures and are not to be missed on a spring visit to Toyama.
Source (article and photo): Toyama Just Now