By Bonson Lam
Japan as a whole loves caricatures and mascots, from Kumamoto Prefecture's Kumamon to the famous Hello Kitty. The fun and polite creatures from Moomin Valley are no exception. No matter where you are in Japan, chances are you'll spot items like keychains or office supplies with strange, hippo-like creatures or an angry, mischievous-looking redhead. But the love for Moomin doesn't stop at office supplies. Moomin is a huge franchise in Japan, from books and DVDs to bakeries and even an art exhibit in celebration of creator Tove Jansson's 100th birthday. It's only natural for there to be a Moomin-themed bubble tea stand, too.
Moomin Stands offer more than 15 flavors of bubble tea, including flavors like matcha, salted caramel and chocolate. The most popular flavor, however, is mixed berry milk. The tapioca pearls are said to mimic hattifattener seeds. While tapioca pearls are typically black, the stand offers pink, berry flavored pearls, which go great with tea flavors like strawberry and peach. Drink prices range from ¥270 to ¥370, and each drink comes with a hattifattener, Little My or Snufkin decoration attached to the straw.
Among other treats sold at the stand are hattifattener-shaped donuts and "Moomin snow," original honey milk ice cream.
The stand itself is designed to look like Moomin House. A giant hattifattener growing out of a cup beckons customers in. The shop sells Moomin goods like stuffed animals, cookies shaped like the characters from Moomin, DVDs and towels. However some of the most popular items are from the special cafe goods shelf, which can typically only be found at Moomin Stands, bakeries and cafes in Japan. These items include tea, silverware and pasta shaped like characters from the show.
While browsing through the merchandise, the Moomin soundtrack plays cheerfully in the background. The soundtrack is also available for purchase.
You will often hear women of all ages gasping with delight at the goods sold here, but one of the true delights at the stand is that employees will thank you with "kiitos," Finnish for thank you. It's a nice tribute to the homeland of Moomin.
There are five other Moomin Stands, including branches in Yokohama, Fukuoka and Tokyo. To find the nearest location near you, please look here.
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I'm an Asian studies and journalism student who has been studying abroad at Hiroshima Jogakuin University for a year. My hobbies include studying Japanese, reading and writing poetry and traveling Japan. I love cats, visual kei and any and all cartoons.