‘Alien’ life forms in Japan’s Seto Sea:
Forget the neons of Tokyo. For an otherworldly light experience visit the bioluminescent ‘sea fireflies’ on the beaches of the Inland Sea.
In the daylight, umi-hotaru look like plankton or minute chia seeds floating in the water, but at night you can see the luminescent chemicals activating in their light organ. The glow is strong enough that Japan collected umi-hotaru during World War II and ground them into a light-emitting powder to help soldiers check maps at night.
Locals in Okayama Prefecture gave us many tips for finding umi-hotaru and we spent hours driving along bumpy coastal roads of Okayama looking for the right spot. We eventually found a perfect location: a small beach near Ushimado on the Seto Inland Sea. Locals also told us many stories about the creatures’ secretive behavior — but umi-hotaru aren’t as shy as the old wives’ tales suggest.