Want To Never Dine Alone? Go To Japan's Anti-Loneliness Cafe

Eating alone in a restaurant can be awkward and even embarrassing. One cafe in Tokyo was designed to help solo diners feel a little less lonely by offering a silent dining partner. These partners are "Moomins." Moomins are fantasy creatures that largely resemble hippopotami walking upright. They were created by Finnish author Tove Jansson in the 1940s and have found a comfortable home (and marketing niche) in Japan.

Moomin Cafe (Image via Rocket News 24)Moomin Cafe (Image via Rocket News 24)

The first Moomin book was published in 1945 and was not much of a success. Two more books quickly followed and the creatures of Moominvalley and their friends began to gain some popularity. The books were translated into English a few years later. Eventually they were translated into 45 different languages. Jansson also wrote and illustrated four picture books about the Moomin family. The Japanese came into the picture when they took on the task of animating the characters.

Moomin Cafe (Image via Rocket News 24)Moomin Cafe (Image via Rocket News 24)

The Moomin Cafe is decorated in all things Moomin and patrons are offered dining companions in the shape of stuffed-animal style Moomins. You could find yourself face-to-face with Moomintroll, Snork Maiden, Moominpapa, or one of the other characters from the books or cartoons. Personally, I would want to have a roundtable discussion with all of them at once. My inner child wants to go to Japan now. Between cat cafes and Moomin ones she is going crazy.

Moomin Cafe With Snork Maiden, Momminpapa, and Moomintroll  (Image via Rocket News 24)Moomin Cafe With Snork Maiden, Momminpapa, and Moomintroll (Image via Rocket News 24)

Naturally, food is not the only thing available for sale. You can also buy from a wide variety of Moomin merchandise which includes stuffed versions of the many characters from the books. This means you can own your very own Moominmama, Snufkin, or Little My. You can even buy the Groke -- a creature so dismal that she freezes the ground wherever she sits down. I see no evidence, but I would hope that they would also sell the books.

Moomin Cafe (Image via Rocket News 24)Moomin Cafe (Image via Rocket News 24)

The Japanese appear to be nearly as nuts about Moomins as they are about Hello Kitty. There are a number of Moomin cafes, stands, and shops throughout the country. Word is that this particular cafe, while fairly quiet on weekdays, is packed to the gills on weekends. There are plans for a Moomin theme park to open next year. There are times when I wish that we were as open to embracing the weird life as the Japanese are.

To get into the fun without having to go all the way to Japan, check out Moomin merchandise on Amazon (click here). For a book to start with I recommend "Finn Family Moomintroll" Your children who like to read will thank you for this. Of course, then you may need to plan a trip to Japan -- or the existing theme park in Finland.

Sources: Japan Trends, Rocket News 24, Wikipedia

Some of the sites we link to are affiliates. We may earn a small commission if you use our links.