Night light up and general information for Tove Jansson Akebono Children’s Forest (formerly called Moomin Valley) in Hanno City, Saitama Prefecture just North of Tokyo…
Tove Jansson Akebono Children’s Forest
Once nicknamed “Moomin House” and now known as “Mushroom House” the quirky building pictured below is one of three buildings (and a cafe added in 2018) in this free, unique and imaginative theme park for children in Hanno City; Tove Jansson 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. When the night illumination began at the park you could also enter this building on select nights. However, that was suspended due to the pandemic. Now you can only admire the building from the outside at night and only when the night illumination event is on. (Skip to night illumination information).
Tove Jansson Akebono Children’s Forest during the pandemic
The park closed for the 2020 State of Emergency. However, it has remained open ever since, even during the 2021 State of Emergencies. But you couldn’t enter the Mushroom House. Also, the night light up was temporarily cancelled and the park closed at 5 pm daily during most of 2020 and half of 2021. As of September 30th 2021, the night light up is back on weekends. And as of April 1st 2022 you can enter the Mushroom House again on weekdays. If you want to enter on a weekend (daytime only) you need to get a ticket. The tickets are free but you have to secure them in advance. Day or night, you are required to wear a mask to the park. They have hand sanitizer available for disinfecting your hands too.
Until 2018, before Metsa opened, the mushroom house used to be nicknamed “Moomin House”. 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!
In spring viola and in summer portuluca flowers grow in front of the mushroom house.
NB: During the pandemic, until April 1st 2022, you could only view the Mushroom House from outside. But from April 1st 2022 they have opened the buildings to the public again. However, on weekends and public holidays you have to secure a ticket in advance. They are free, but they only give out a certain amount each day – no ticket, no entry to the buildings. You don’t need a ticket on a weekday, but the house closes between noon and 12.30 pm for disinfecting. You can get the tickets (for weekends) at the Facility Management Building:
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.
Tove Jansson Library
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.
Tove Jansson Akebono Children’s Forest
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.
Night Light up
Tove Jansson Akebono Children’s Forest is lit up at night on Saturdays, Sundays and on select national holidays throughout the year. The lights are turned on at dusk and stay on until 9 pm on days that the park is open (closed on Mondays except for special occasions). In addition, during the Autumn leaves period, Christmas and Golden Week they open the park late on weekdays too. For Golden Week 2022 night light up will be on from Friday April 29th to Sunday May 1st and again from Tuesday May 3rd until Thursday May 5th.
Please note that before the pandemic you could enter some of the buildings at night when the illumination event was on. They opened the Mushroom House back up to the public from April 1st 2022, however, it seems to be still closed during the night illumination. You can check their Facebook Page or official website for the most up-to-date information.
Tove Jansson Park Information
Tove Jansson Akebono Children’s Forest Park, aka Moomin Valley, official hours are Tuesday to Sunday from 9 am to 5 pm. However, when there is night light up, which is most Saturdays and Sundays, the park is open until 9 pm. The park is closed on Mondays. 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 Finnish and Moomin Theme Park and it will be the first Moomin Theme Park to open outside of Finland. It comprises a free area called Metsa Village and an area you have to pay into called Moominvalley park. It has been on the horizon for a few years now, but completion has been delayed numerous times. *It finally opened in part in 2018 and completely in 2019.
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.
Yama no Susume
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:
Despite the opening of Metsa, this park – now named Tove Jansson Akebono Children’s forest – 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.
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.
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: