We’ve discovered yet another destination to add to our list for when we finally take that field trip to Japan: Moomin Cafés.

Created Swedish-Finn illustrator and writer Tove Jansson for a series of books and comics, the Moomins are a family of fairy tale characters that look like white hippos who’ve learned to walk upright and sometimes wear the odd article of clothing. They live in Moominvalley where they share all sorts of adventures with a variety of equally interesting characters.

The original books are so popular throughout Japan that they spawned a franchise of animated tv shows [Buy on Amazon], merchandise [Buy on Amazon], and a chain of Moomin Bakeries and Cafés managed by the Benelic company. Each adorable location is full of Moomin-themed art, Moomin-shaped food and drinks, and Moomin merchandise. But, wait, none of those cute things are the best part.

The best part is that, when you visit a Moomin Café all by yourself, you’ll soon be informed that someone else would like to sit with you. And before you have time to wonder who on earth might’ve followed you there, you’ll be joined at your table by one of the Moomin characters - or rather a large plush version of one of them. No need to bring a book. We’re sure you’ll have plenty to talk about.

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