Moomin Valley – Nicknamed “Moomin House” the quirky building pictured is one of three buildings (and a cafe added in 2018) in this free, unique and imaginative theme park for children in Hanno City; Akebono Children’s Forest Park. Once you leave your shoes at the door (which we didn’t on our first visit, cringe) you’re free to roam the house and discover the nooks and crannies.There are 3 floors and a basement to explore.
The upper floors have little beds and items laid out to make it look like someone lives there. There are doors, windows, cubby holes, secret spaces, stair cases and lots more to captivate the littlest of minds. The park is geared to children, but there are few safety measures in place, so I recommend you stay close to your kids as they climb in the main house. You might also want to watch your own head; I bumped mine a few times!
Facility Management Building
The facility management building is another stunningly designed earthen building with lots of intricate detail. There is a wall waterfall in the open plan lobby. You can walk along the roof, where there is a small lookout tower which doubles as a prime photo spot.
In the Facility Management building there is a large play area with handmade toys the kids can play with. The park is open until 5, but the playroom closes at 4. Occasionally, they have events on in this room. The management building houses the toilets, including one with a baby keep and changing area. You are requested to bring used nappies home with you.
Reading and information station
The 3rd building is an information station and reading area with books and a seats. There is a selection of books including some Moomin stories. They have some great encyclopedia type books about insects and beetles too. They also have some Moomin motifs and posters in this building. The architecture is once again stunning, with some unique features such as the acorn shaped window.
Behind the building with the reading room is one of the nature trails and the route to the waterfall, as well as the tree house pictured below. The tree house has recently been rebuilt.
Tove Jansson Akebono Children’s Forest Park, aka Moomin Valley, official hours are Tuesday to Sunday from 9 am to 5 pm. The park is never closed completely though as they have no way to seal it off. However, you may not be able to access the buildings out of these hours.In 2012 I nicknamed this park “Saitama’s best kept secret”, because at the time it was. However, the news of Metsa opening changed all that and the park has enjoyed increased tourism in the last 2 years.
Metsa is a Moomin Theme Park and it will be the first Moomin Theme Park to open outside of Finland. It has been on the horizon for a few years now, but completion has been delayed numerous times.
Despite the upcoming completion of Metsa, the park is still quite hard to find. They have added some new sign posts and I imagine as the opening of Metsa draws close they will add even more. Please see the access section for detailed information on the park’s location.
The current park is free in and suitable for rainy days. I noticed an unsightly air conditioning unit out the back of Moomin’s house, so I assuming they use it in the summer. There is a small shop at the edge of the car park, but they don’t sell much in the way of food. They do have ice-cream! It is only open on select days. On June 1st 2018 Puisto Cafe was opened. You can get a light lunch in the form of an open sandwich or a dessert here. They have great coffee and smoothies too. There are vending machines halfway up the slope that leads to the park, that sell both drinks and ice-creams.
When we first visited years ago the park wasn’t really suitable for strollers, but now it is except in the forest where the waterfall is. If you are planning to visit the waterfall I suggest you park your buggy at the management facility building. It is a lovely area to hike in though, but some of the hiking trails will be lost with the development of METSA.
For anime lovers, this park is used as the back drop in the second season, episode 20, of the anime Yama no susume, “Climb of Encouragement“. You can see the anime images compared with the real life scenery in this blog article here:
Moomin Valley Access
Moomin Valley is approximately 20 minutes from both the Sayama-Hidaka and Iruma Interchanges of the Ken-o expressway. The park is situated behind Hanno’s city public gym and hockey courts. There is a Cainz beside it which is probably the best landmark. They are on prefectural route 195; 9 kilometres from route 16 if you come off the Ken-o expressway at the Iruma Interchange. Prefectural road 195 also meets up with route 407 which is the road I took from Sakado. The road is quite busy and only one lane for a lot of the journey. The car park is in the grounds of Hanno’s Taiikukan.
It is about a 20 minute walk from Motokaji 元加治 Station on the Seibu Ikebukuro line.
To extend your playtime in Hanno, just across the road you can enjoy the playground in Asu Sports Park.
Update in 2018: Cafe Puisto
A new building, a cafe, opened June 1st 2018. And it is just as quirky and unique as the other buildings in Tove Jansson’s Akebono Children’s Forest Park aka Moomin Valley:
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