From theme cafes to a controversial question included in a university entrance exam, it’s without a doubt that the adorable white marshmallow-like creatures known as Moomins have won the hearts of many in Japan who just can’t seem to get enough of them.
Resembling hippopotamuses with large snouts, the fictitious creatures are a family of characters from a series of cartoon books by Finnish illustrator Tove Jansson, which have remained best-sellers in Finland, Sweden and other parts of Europe for decades.
The cuddly critters have also steadily gained popularity in Asia, especially in Korea, Japan and China, according to the official Moomin blog.
The craze is about to get bigger in Japan following the recent announcement of the opening date of the much-anticipated Moomin Valley Park at the Saitama Prefecture, in the city of Hanno, which is set for March next year.
Initial plans were announced in 2013 and it’s the second Moomin-inspired park to open in the city.
But this one promises to be even bigger and better with a lot more structures and buildings which appear in the books. It will also more closely resemble the original Moomin World in Finland, according to news website Soranews24.
Visitors can experience the world of the Moomins first-hand by exploring every nook and cranny of their five-storey house, from attic to the basement, for example.
Other places that will come to life include the light tower, bathing house and Ocean Orchestra, the ship from the Moomin story books.
Besides places from the books, there will also be a three-storey building which will house a gift shop, an exhibit of Jansson’s work, and an interactive exhibit and a restaurant that is, of course, Moomin-themed.
While waiting for the park to open, Moomin fans can look forward to the Metsä Village, which is an extension of the park that’s slated to open this November.
Featuring an European style market, where visitors can purchase fresh local produce, a hotel with en-suite saunas, and a lakeside glamping facility, the village will offer “a Northern European lifestyle experience” to visitors.