Metsa Village is the ‘free’ part of the Moominvalley theme park in Hanno, Saitama. Each year they have a Christmas market. We visited the Metsa Village Christmas market and Christmas town on the opening day of the event, November 1st (2019). It was a little too early to enjoy the full line up and I think if we were to go again for Christmas we’d wait until December.
First impressions were good as Christmas muzak, seasonal flags and banners greeted us at entrance road. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before the excitement was quashed by the reality.
For one, on their Christmas adverts on the official website they display the beautiful tree they had in 2018. That is currently nowhere in sight for 2019. I asked a couple of staff where to find it and they said there is no Christmas tree except the small one at the front of the lake as you come down from entrance road. That has a handful of bobbles and nothing else. If that is their Christmas tree for 2019, it is an insult to the season!
However, as it was early on the first day of the official Christmas period of Metsa, there is a high chance they just weren’t ready in time. Online event websites all advertise the giant natural tree with stunning decorations, just like the official site does, so I am optimistic it will eventually be on display. Please God in time for their first Santa Claus event on November 9th.
Metsa Christmas Market
Metsa as a Nordic theme park, actually sells Christmas goods all year round But for the christmas period they have a market in the Metsa Hall. Metsa Hall is actually quite small, so its that not large of a market. The Christmas market in Saitama Shintoshin is larger. But Metsa does have some cute and original seasonal goods that are hard to come by elsewhere in Saitama.
The Christmas town also has Christmas food available in the reasonably priced buffet restaurant Lagom. The 2019 fare includes several foods from my home country of Ireland so I had every intention of eating there. However, on the day the queue was out the door, and the weather was beautiful and unseasonably hot, so we opted for a simpler lunch with a view of Miyazawa lake in outdoor cafe Utepils.
The good news
Now to the good news. Since November 1st the famously over priced Metsa car park is now actually FREE on weekdays until March 2020. They have also halfed the upper cap price for weekends, which was previously 3000 yen. Now you will spend no more than 1500 yen for parking at Metsa or Moominvalley park on a Saturday or Sunday.
There may not be a Christmas tree lit up yet, but there is beautiful illumination around the park at night. A sample from the official Metsa Village Instagram:
There are Christmas crafts scheduled for the Christmas period. Currently as the word hasn’t quite spread about the Christmas town, it is quite easy to get a booking for the November Christmas crafts such as these Nordic mobiles:
Another positive of Christmas town being a disappointment for me personally, was that due to the lack of Christmas attractions I decided to try out Funmock instead. It was so much better than I had imagined and a really good work out too. I definitely lost a few pounds jumping around on the adventure sports playground in the sky! You can read more about the Funmock adventure playground and my impressions here (click).
Moreover and most importantly, Metsa is a delight to visit at any time of the year. Even if (currently) the Christmas vibe isn’t what I personally expected, its always nice to visit the Finnish theme park and indulge in some Nordic living.
You could see a few hints of color on the trees around Miyazawa lake, a focal point of the park. In a week or two the scenery will be even more stunning than usual with the autumn leaves. And hopefully they will have added some more Christmas decorations in the meantime.
Metsa Christmas Information
|Address:||327‐6 Miyazawa, Hanno City, Saitama〒357-0001 Japan|
|Hours:||10 am to 9 pm, illumination from dusk|
|Dates:||Christmas Market from November 1st to December 25th 2019|
|English:||Christmas market event information updated annually|
The Metsa Village Christmas market is located about 10 minutes by car from the Sayama Hidaka Interchange of the Ken-o expressway. Parking is now free on weekdays and capped to a maximum of 1800 yen on weekends.
By train you can access Metsa Village from either Seibu Ikebukuro Line’s Hanno Station or from JR Hachiko Line’s Higashi Hanno station. Unfortunately, both are quite a walk to the resort, taking at least 35 minutes on foot. However, there are now buses that go to the resort from the North exit of Seibu line Hanno Station. It takes about 13 minutes and costs 200 yen.
In a regular year there is a bus that goes from Higashi Hanno station, but please note this route has been temporarily suspended. It also takes about 13 minutes and costs 200 yen.Source: Winter Wonderland and Adventure Walk