Moomins The Phenomenon

MOOMINWORLD IS A PILGRIMAGE DESTINATION FOR FANS OF TOVE JANSSON, DRAWING ADMIRATION FROM AROUND THE WORLD. WHAT BREEDS THIS WORLDWIDE POPULARITY AND WHAT DO THE MOOMINS MEAN FOR FANS OF VARIOUS AGES? I DECIDED TO FIND OUT.

Share page

Edellinen artikkeli
Seuraava artikkeli

This July morning in Naantali is stiflingly hot. However, the hot temperatures don’t seem to dissuade people from going, as guests swarm around the gates of Moominworld. As I wait, I scan the throngs of families around and spot a small group of Japanese tourists.

It’s easy to forget that Moominworld attracts visitors from Tokyo as well as Tampere. The Moomins aren’t just bedtime stories for Finnish children but rather a global phenomenon that reaches across generations.

Genuine Fans

I follow curiously this Japanese group towards the Moomin House and spot their many Moomin-themed items: backpacks, T-shirts, key rings. It’s as if everyone was dressed for a special fan convention. Well, they were.

I want to find out what the Moomins mean to the Japanese. I approach the group’s interpreter, Eri Sano, who kindly promises to help.

Eri enlightens me, explaining how the Japanese know the Moomins well. In Japan, they watch Moomin animations and read Moomin books just like in Finland.

"It's easy to fall in love and identify with the characters and their stories," Eri says.


But there isn’t just one reason explaining this Moomin phenomenon because everyone experiences the Moomins in their own way and identifies with them differently.

Why the Moomins, specifically?

I want to know more, so Eri helps introduce me to a young couple. Nanase and Ryoma are both in Moominworld for the first time - and on their honeymoon would you believe!

The inspiration for this trip originated with the Moomin books.

Nanase is a fan of both the Moomins and
 Tove Jansson but Ryoma, on the other hand, doesn’t share the same fondness. However, the adoring husband wanted to please his new wife, so Ryoma agreed to Finland as their honeymoon destination. Now that's true love!

Nanase says she read the Moomin books and really liked them. In addition to the characters, she delighted in Tove Jansson's illustrations of the nature, the sky and the forest. So the inspiration for this trip originated with the Moomin books. I was learning more all the time.

 

 

 

My next interviewees are two lovely sisters, Kimiko and Akiko. They are also visiting Moominworld for the first time. Do they like it?

“Yes, very much,” both reply, nodding enthusiastically.

Moomins are very familiar to the sisters. Akiko has been reading the Moomin books to her own children and she has many friends who also like the Moomins. The siblings excitedly list their favourite characters, from Snufkin to Moominmamma.

Kimiko and Akiko, however, find much more in the books. They admire the characters and their wisdom but also the deeper message between the lines, Tove Jansson’s own perspective and way of looking at the world.

Superwoman-Tove

You can't talk about the Moomins without Tove Jansson or Tove Jansson without the Moomins. Every Japanese person I talked to during the day brought her up. The artist seems to be a source of inspiration and admiration for all ages. Many state how Tove is a big deal in Japan.

“Many people know her and her work and associate Tove with the Moomins,” says Eri.

I thought Moomin fanatics in Japan were more attracted by the cute appearance of the Moomins but I was wrong. The Moomins and Moominworld are a way to be immersed in the way Tove thinks about the world, reflecting the values that are important to the Japanese.

 

 

Family, tolerance and equality are things that unite Finnish and Japanese cultures. Moominworld is a place where these values come to life by the seaside.

 

 

 

  • Must-have: Moominworld Collections and other delights

    Where would a Moomin-fan be without all the lovely Moomin merchandise? That’s why the number one spot in Moominworld for all fans is Sniff’s Boutique, whose selection brings joy to both young and old. There’s such a wide range of products available, you’ll find it difficult to leave. (But then, you can never have too many Moomin mugs, and you must have a gift for Grandma!)

    Top tip! Sniff’s Boutique has the super coveted Moominwold Collections, so it’s worth hunting through the unique product series. These are only available from Sniff’s boutique as well as the Moomin store in the old town of Naantali. Moominworld’s own product line includes accessories, clothing, home textiles and much much more!

READ MORE AND BUY TICKETS

In cooperation with Moominworld.
Text Jemina Sormunen. Video Kim Allen-Mersh.

Published | Updated