Must-See Japan Places of Interest

Moomin from Finland will be Glad to Meet you anytime

Hi  Messrs. Mses. Japanophiles.  how are you doing? Let me permit to ask you suddenly if you’ve met ” Moomin from Finland” ?

I met it Today (on March 27, 2019) at Moomin Valley Theme Park in Hanno, Saitama prefecture, north of Tokyo. The park was opened on March 16, 2019 for the first time in Japan, outside Scandinavia.

Have you ever met the Moomins?

They are the central characters in a series of books and a comic strip by Swedish-speaking Finnish illustrator Tove Jansson, originally published in Swedish by Schildts in Finland.

The Moomins, comic book cover by Tove Jansson

They are a family of white, round fairy tale characters with large snouts that make them resemble hippopotamuses.

The family lives in their house in Moominvalley, though in the past, their temporary residences have included a lighthouse and a theatre. They have had many adventures along with their various friends.

In all, nine books were released in the series, together with five picture books and a comic strip being released between 1945 and 1993.

The Moomin has since been the basis for numerous television series, films and even a theme park called Moomin World in Naantali, Finland.

Their big success meant they quickly become stars of TV screen in Japan, far from their native Finland.

The cartoon was first aired for TV in Japan in 1969, and the Japanese, children in particular have liked the moomin since that.

The Moomins, from the 1990–91 television animation. From left to right, Sniff, Moominmamma, Moominpappa, Moomintroll (Moomin) and Little My.

Moomin boom

The Moomin Boom started in the 1990s, when Dennis Livson and Lars Jansson produced a 104-part animation series in Japan named Tales From Moominvalley, which was followed by a full-length movie Comet in Moominland.

Moomin books had always been steady bestsellers in Finland, Sweden, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, but the animation started a new Moomin madness both in Finland and abroad, especially in Japan, where they are the official mascots of the Daiei chain of shopping centers.

A large merchandising industry was built around the Moomin characters, covering everything from coffee cups and T-shirts to plastic models. Even the former Finnish President Tarja Halonen has been known to wear a Moomin watch.

New Moomin comic books and comic strips were published. Moomins were used to advertise Finland abroad: the Helsinki-Vantaa International Airport was decorated with Moomin images and Finnair decorated its aircraft on routes to Japan with Moomin designs.

Finnair MD-11 decorated with Moomin characters serving the Japanese route

The peak of the Moomin Boom was the opening of the Moomin World theme park in Naantali, Finland, which has become one of Finland’s international tourist destinations.

Synopsis and characters of Moomins’ family

The Moomin stories concern several eccentric and oddly-shaped characters, some of whom are related to each other. The central family consists of Moominpappa, Moominmamma and Moomintroll.

Other characters, such as Hemulens, Sniff, the Snork Maiden, Snufkin and Little My are accepted into or attach themselves to the family group from time to time, generally living separate lives in the surrounding Moomin valley, where the series is set.

It is in this fictional valley, that the Moomin family decides to live at the end of The Moomins and the Great Flood.

What’s the Moomin Valley Park like?

Two large parks have been built in Hanno, Saitama Prefecture in order to give the Japanese a glimpse of the way of life in northern Europe, as well as the famous Moomins they love. Visitors can discover the world of these adorable Finnish trolls just 1.5 hours from Tokyo by train.

In addition to Moomin valley Park, entirely dedicated to the Moomins, which opened on March 16, 2019, the large Metsä Village area next door will allow visitors to relax in nature, in a very Scandinavian atmosphere.


The park will be named Metsa, which means “forest” in Finnish. In the autumn of 2018, a facility in which people can experience the lifestyle of northern Europe opened at the park as “Metsa Village.”

In the spring of the this year, a Metsa facility called “Moomin Valley Park” launched, marking the theme park’s grand opening.

About 15.8 hectares of the site, which spans roughly 25.7 hectares, were developed, while the remainder is left in a natural state.

The Village’s function as a nature park is being maintained, while markets selling local agricultural and craft products will also be set up, along with eateries, an accommodation facility with saunas in each room, and a space to hold events.

They perform many interesting on stage three times a day

The Valley Park will include a replica of the house where the Moomins live and other attractions through which they can relive the characters’ stories.

A lighthouse and bathing house that appear in the stories also were built, and officials plan to set up a gift shop and restaurant, among other facilities. Some 1 million visitors are expected to visit the facility annually.

FinTech Global President and CEO Nobumitsu Tamai commented at a news conference “I want to create a new style of local vitalization together with the area.”

Hanno Mayor Masaru Okubo, who attended the news conference, voiced hope for the facility’s success.

“We hope that Metsa will be a source of joy not just throughout Japan but across the world,” he said.

Whenever you can meet these lovely moomins there in a natural atomosphere, why not?


They are open from 10am to 8pm throughout the year

Moomins are welcome for your visit there.

About the author

古林 茂樹(Shigeki Furubayashi )