An account of visiting the Umbrella Sky “Forest and Lake and Umbrella“ aka Umbrella Sky Project / Umbrella Street in Saitama Prefecture, Japan.
The umbrella sky in Metsa* is one of the most famous and most popular summer events in Saitama Prefecture annually. To date, the event has gone ahead every year, despite the pandemic. However, there were some big changes in 2022. Most significantly, the location is no longer in the free Metsa Village, but in the charged Moominvalley area. The account hereafter is from between 2019 and 2021 when the event was held on Entrance Road in Metsa. Information for the 2023 event is here.
Please note the information hereafter is not valid for 2023, this is a record of my own visits and information for between 2019 and 2022. The information specifically for 2023 is here.
Metsa Umbrella Sky 2019 – 2022
The official name until 2022 was “Forest and Lake and Umbrella“, but it was and still is also known as “Moomin Valley and Umbrella” or umbrella sky project. The event is so popular that in 2021, they actually had TWO umbrella sky events. The first starts in spring. However, the first or spring umbrella sky is in the part of Metsa that has an entrance fee called “Moominvalley Park”. The second version, started in June 2021, in the free part of Metsa, Metsa Village. However, in 2022 there was no second free version unfortunately.
*Metsa is made up of Metsa Village which is free and “Moominvalley park“, the Moomin theme park, which has an entry fee.
Japan’s largest umbrella sky
What started as a month long event in 2019 was so popular that in its second year, 2020, they extended the end date, not just once but twice! And the event ended up running right up until September. The same happened in 2021. And in both 2020 and 2021 they added even more umbrellas. It was already Japan’s largest umbrella sky before they added the umbrellas, but the 2021 display was twice the size of the 2019 umbrella street, with 2000 umbrellas used.
The umbrellas for the main umbrella sky, in summer, are spread over a 100 meters of Entrance Road. Entrance Road is the main road from the car park / bus stop to the village and Moominvalley park. Since 2020 they also have a display along a 200 meter stretch by the lake. In 2020 / 2021, there were 800 umbrellas along Entrance Road and 1200 umbrellas lakeside. For a total of 2000 umbrellas.
Umbrella Sky Project
The internationally acclaimed Umbrella Sky Project started in Portugal in 2011/ 2012. Since then several locations around the globe have adopted the uplifting art project. There have been several places in Japan that have mimicked the art installation over the last few years. But this one in Metsa has been the biggest to date.
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Forest and Lake and Umbrella
For the record, the summer umbrella sky is called “forest and lake and umbrella”, but you can’t actually see the lake from the umbrella street! But just as you pass the end of the umbrellas you get a view of the beautiful Miyazawa Lake.
In the workshop in Metsa Village they have a small display of umbrellas from the ceiling during the summer umbrella sky period. They are connected to the workshop tables to give the impression of them carrying the tables. It gives the illusion that the tables are floating. The umbrellas are different to the umbrellas in the main walkway which are each a singular color. In the workshop they have different type of motifs and designs.
Hattifattener’s Thunder Splash
The Hattifattener’s or Nyoro Nyoro Thunder Splash was newly added to the Umbrella street event in 2020. Nyoro-nyoro is the Japanese for the Hattifatteners character, that look like a thin long ghost or white mushroom! The Hattifattener’s thunder lightning splash combines sound effects, mist and water – with 101 mini Hattifatttener – to heighten the experience of the umbrella sky! And also to help cool down in the summer heat! There is also a fountain spot where kids can play with water. They had the Hattifattener’s thunder splash again in 2021. But it was in the Moominvalley Park area (the Moomin amusement park in Metsa, that is charged).
Umbrella Sky Japan light up
Both areas are open until 9 pm at night so you can see the umbrellas lit up at night too (between 2019 and 2022 – not in 2023). During the summer display, they use different color umbrellas to give the illusion of a rainbow along entrance road. Meanwhile, the lakeside display aims to create a “warm light” image and will use different color umbrellas to entrance road.
We visited the very first Forest and Lake and Umbrella Metsa Umbrella Sky Project in the summer of 2019. And we weren’t disappointed. In 2019, it didn’t feel like there were that many umbrellas along Entrance Road, where the main display is. But it didn’t matter – it is the rainbow colored design and vibrant vibe that makes the display so impressive.
There some beautiful purple hydrangea at the edge of the forest along the side of the walkway where the umbrellas are displayed. It was too hard to get a photo of them and the umbrellas together due to lighting and angles (plus I am not a photographer!). I personally also wasn’t able to get a clear photo of the umbrellas without people in them. As you would expect, there is constantly people admiring / walking / standing / posing under the umbrellas. If you have the time and patience to wait, an opportunity might arise though.
Spring Umbrella Sky 2020 – 2021
The spring umbrella sky will start on April 27th 2022. The theme of the spring umbrella sky this year is “Ride anywhere on a hot air balloon of the imagination”. It was inspired by a scene from “The Dangerous Journey” (pictured above) which is one of the exhibitions in Kokemus exhibition hall in Moominvalley. The 2022 spring umbrella street will once again have 1200 umbrellas. However, between mid April and mid June the umbrella sky is only in Moominvalley Park, the area you pay into, not the free entrance road section of Metsa. The free one, if it is on, is in the summer.
Metsa Village Information
Hours: Open 10 am to 9 pm seven days a week. The market hall closes at 8 pm. Parking opens at 9.30 am.
By car: the umbrella street and the theme park are about a ten minute drive from the Sayama Hidaka Interchange of the Ken-o expressway.
By public transport: You can get to Metsa Village in Hanno in about an hour from parts of Tokyo. You can access Metsa Village from either Seibu Ikebukuro Line’s Hanno Station or from JR Hachiko Line’s Higashi Hanno station. Both are quite a walk to the resort, taking at least 35 minutes on foot, but there are also buses to the park from those stations.
Official 2022 Summer (Metsa village) umbrella sky event page not yet available – the event may not be on in the summer of 2022. We are awaiting confirmation either way – last check June 30th 2022.
More Moominvalley / Metsa Village posts:
- Saitama Starbucks
- Moomin Valley Park: Hemulin’s Playground
- Kokemus Exhibition Facility, Moomin Valley Park
- Panza Miyazawako Funmock at Metsa Village
- Metsa Christmas
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