Akebono Kodomo-no Mori Koen, Moomin Valley
Hanno-shi, Suga 893-1, tel: 042-972-771
The Moomins (Swedish: Mumintroll, Finnish: Muumi) are the central characters in a series of books and a comic strip by Swedish-Finn illustrator and writer Tove Jansson, originally published in Swedish by Schildts in Finland. They are a family of fairy tale characters, who are white and roundish, with large snouts, that make them resemble hippopotamuses. The carefree and adventurous family live 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, with five picture books and a comic strip being released between 1945 and 1993.
The Moomins have since been the basis for numerous television series, films and even a theme park called Moomin World in Naantali, Finland.
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.
The Moomin Boom
The Moomin Boom (muumibuumi in Finnish) 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 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 painted big Moomin figures on its Japan-line airplanes. 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.
The Moomin Boom has been criticized for commercializing the Moomins. Friends of Tove Jansson and many old Moomin enthusiasts have stressed that the animations banalize the original and philosophical Moomin world to harmless family entertainment. An antithesis for the Disneyland-like Moomin World theme park is the Moomin Museum of Tampere, which exhibits the original illustrations and hand-made Moomin models by Tove Jansson.
The Jansson family has kept the rights of Moomins and controlled the Moomin Boom. The artistic control is now in the hands of Lars Jansson's daughter, Sophia Jansson-Zambra. Wanting to keep the control over Moomins, the family has turned down offers from the Walt Disney Company.