Have you heard of the Moomins? Is that a yes? (If so I’ll tell you something that you didn’t know) You’re not sure, but the name rings a bell? (Carry on reading; you’re in for a surprise!) The Moomins or Mumintroll if you’re Swedish are characters in a series of animation and picture books created by Tove Jansson. The Moomins are a family of trolls who are white, round and plump, with large heads that make them resemble something in between an elephant and a hippopotamus. The adventurous family lives deep within the forests of Moominvalley in Finland.
“Finland?” I hear you say, so what’s a Finnish animation got to do with Japan? Well quite a lot actually. In Japan, The Moomin’s play into a culture craze for all things cute or ‘Kawaii”, if it looks cute, a Japanese adult will buy the item as much as a child will. Located within the famous Tokyo Sky Tree complex is a Moomin café that “invites you into the Moomin Valley”.
Here you’ll find a variety of breads and dishes straight from Moomin’s home in Finland. That’s not all! You can escape your loneliness (that’s if you’re lonely of course) by dining with huge plush Moomin characters.
The Café’s dreamlike decor even has food and drinks inspired by the Moomin characters.
Moomin lovers can further enjoy eating their food with Moomin cutlery…this my friend is Moomin heaven!
It is well known that Tove Jansson, (who died in 2001) based her work on her life experiences, especially from her experiences from growing up during the Second World War. Her sense of shyness and feelings of disaster portrayed throughout her work may be the reason why the Japanese were more susceptible towards the Moomins. Also the Finnish way of “living in accordance with nature” is in harmony with the Japanese teachings of Shinto.
The Japanese love for the Moomins doesn’t stop here, In the Kanto prefecture of Saitama, Hanno City, (approximately 40 minutes from Tokyo Ikebukuro Station) stands a real life Moominhouse in Akebono Kodomo Mori Park (あけぼの子どもの森公園). The Park, designed especially for children, was built and opened in 1997 and became known as Moomin Valley.
The landscape around the park is beautifully green and scenic, great to enjoy a special bond with nature. Visitors of the park say walking through this valley, gives the impression that one is walking in a fairy-tale land, the peaceful environment, definitely has a touch of fantasy to it.
Wait! There’s more… In 2006 Finland’s national Airlines depicted Two Finnair Boeing MD-11 aircrafts with big Moomin figures. The ‘Moomin Aricrafts’ as they became to be known mainly operated on routes between Japan and Finland during the summer months. Its inaugural flights to Nagoya (名古屋市) the largest city in the Chūbu prefecture of Japan had the Moomins on-board…awesome!
Well there you have it, who would have guessed Moomins were so popular in Japan. The Moomin Café in Tokyo and the Moomin House in Hanno City are definitely not to be missed! If you’re like most of us and cannot visit Japan, then worry not for you can try cooking Moomin food yourself from the Moomin Cookbook available from Amazon http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/190683816X. Why not transform your kitchen in to a Moomin Cafe?