Dining with a (Stuffed) Moomin: Japan’s Latest Anti-Loneliness Cafe Trend

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By Annemarie Tompsen

Single diners have no fear. A new café trend is taking over Japan and China; one that can save restaurant goers from the awkward experience of dining alone.

The Moomin Café is an anti-loneliness restaurant featuring Nordic cuisine and the finest dinner partner­­– the Moomin. What’s a Moomin, you ask? The café seats diners with a stuffed animal version of the Moomin or Moomintroll, which is a white hippo like creature created by the Finnish illustrator and writer, Tove Jansson. The little creatures first appeared in her books The Moomins and the Great Flood and Comet in Moominland.

The books were first published in Finnish, but have been adapted to over 44 languages. Following demand for the cute creatures, a Moomin theme park, television series and merchandise has globally deemed these trolls a friendly reminder of Nordic folklore and now, Nordic cuisine.

The first café opened in Tokyo, Japan in 2003. Since then three locations have opened locally and six Moomin themed stands have popped up around the city. While the original café has been in business for over ten years, the trend of “anti-lonliness” has spiked in popularity and a new wave of Moomin fans has errupted.

The dining experience of the café is the true attraction and solo travelers have never felt more comfortable. Diners sit with their plush Moomins and enjoy delicious Nordic dishes like: salmon milk soup, venison stew, and Scandinavian salad with pickled herring. The new location in Hong Kong has widened their menu with choices like: Moomin house pancakes featuring a miniature three story ceramic Moomin house and mango pudding in a complimentary souvenir cup.

Mickey Kera, who came up with the café concept, told CNN, “I thought if people can stay and sit with Moomin characters like Moominmamma and Moominpappa it’d be more interesting.”

To learn more about the Moomin Café experience and the Moomin culture visit the official site.

About the Writer

annemarieAnnemarie Tompsen currently studies Publishing and Writing at Emerson College, where she also works part time at the Lacerte Family Writing & Academic Resource Center. A New Englander at heart, she’s recently moved to the Boston area from the small coastal town of Milford, CT. In her spare time she frequents local Boston coffee shops and has taken an interest in finding the diviest diners around. With the summer approaching she looks forward to exploring Boston and traveling along the coast any chance she can. Annemarie hopes to use her love for the written word to pursue a profession in the publishing industry and to further develop her writing career. Follow her on twitter.

Feature image of Moomin themed window display via Shutterstock

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