The Moomin cafes in Tokyo will close soon, but our reporter had an experience she will never forget


A small act of kindness from a coffee shop employee still warms our reporter’s heart when she thinks about it.

Although they are not widely recognized outside of Europe, MoominsFinnish fairy-tale characters resembling hippos are extremely popular in Japan Moomin theme parks and Traditional Japanese sweets in the shape of Moomins. Then of course they are Moomin cafes. Cafes are a great place for fans of the series for Scandinavian-style bread and soup with their favorite Moomin character (in stuffed toy in the form).

So when our resident Moomin fan Mariko Ohanabatake heard the news both Tokyo branches of the Moomin Café would close in February 2023, She was understandably a little sad. The first Moomin Café opened in 2003 in the LaQua sauna area of ​​the Tokyo Dome and was something of a pioneer of collaborative coffee shops. The first Moomin Cafés were run by Benelic, who is also responsible for Donguri Kyowakokuresponsible company Studio Ghibli promotion.

Mariko visited the LaQua branch several times, but during one visit something special happened to her, which she has carried in her heart ever since. So she decided to share her story to say:Goodbye and thank you‘.

The story takes place about seven or eight years ago when Mariko was working as an editorial producer for “black company‘; company with a toxic work culture. For Mariko, this meant she was yelled at a lot, her social security was suspended, and working at night was considered perfectly normal. After one night like this, Mariko found herself in the LaQua sauna the next morning, taking a short nap. When she woke up, she was overcome by an overwhelming feeling of fear for the day ahead and decided to have breakfast at the nearby Moomin Café.

Even though she was there for breakfast, the cafe was already half full. The other customers were happy, smiling groups taking pictures with plush Moomins and enjoying the morning. Mariko, on the other hand, was wearing yesterday’s clothes and felt completely exhausted. She had come to the cafe to cheer herself up, but the fact that she stood out like a sore thumb made her feel even worse, and she began to regret her decision.

But just then a waitress came up to Mariko’s table with something in her arms. “Want to hang out with Stinky?she asked, clearly concerned that Mariko was there alone.

This was not a reference to Mariko’s disheveled appearance; rather the waitress was holding a stuffed toy a character from the Moomin series named Stinky.

▼ Rather unfortunate named Stinky

As Stinky sat next to Mariko, looking at her with that mischievous smile on his face, more and more members of the Moomin family were invited to her table. She could even sit with her Stork Virgo and Gadabout, that every Moomin fan knows, that is worth its salt great thing.

Being able to sit and eat with so many Moomin characters is a dream come true for any Moomin fan, and as she sat surrounded by plush toys, Mariko felt the envious glances of other customers, which was a bit embarrassing. But she was anyway incredibly touched by the care shown by the cafe staff.

At that time, Mariko really felt like she had somehow wandered into Moominvalley and was surrounded by delicious food prepared by Moominmamma. Although the staff was probably just doing their job and looking after a customer who came to the cafe alone, their kind behavior had a huge impact on Mariko and she felt emotionally healed. Even the memory of that day warms her heart.

While it’s a shame that the Moomin Café is closing, it’s not goodbye forever. From February 2023, a new company will step in and develop Moomin-themed shops and cafes, so while Mariko is sad that the current Moomin cafes where she made such a special memory have closed, she has high hopes for what’s next.

We keep our fingers crossed that the new Moomin Cafe will continue the same level of kindness as the previous one.

Pictures ©SoraNews24
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