Moomin Bakery @ LaQua

A word, “Moomin”, evokes fond memories of the childhood amongst most of the Japanese. Despite being Finnish **** characters, the inhabitants of Moomin Valley is extremely popular in this far-east country. My first encounter with them was through a series of TV cartoons aired as a part of “Calpis Theatre” (カルピス劇場) – the programmes sponsored by a popular soft drink company. I was instantly besotted with a protagonist, Moomin, who resembled a hippo and his peculiar looking relatives and friends. I looked forward to watching the cartoon every Saturday (or was it on Sunday?), and drew him on my notepad tirelessly for the rest of week. When the series came to the end eventually, I was understandably crestfallen, felt the same sort of emptiness when SATC was finally over.
This is the Moomin I grew up with…

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Apparently, Tove Jansson, a creator of Moomin, disapproved of the appearance of the Japanese Moomin. She thought it was too round and fat. However, the Japanese animators / character designers were very concerned of the aesthetics of the original Moomin because his feature was more angular and wouldn’t be found cute “Kawaii” and cuddly by the Japanese audience…

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Hmmm…, how would I feel if I were in Tove’s shoes?
Probably, I would have felt the same frustration if my creation was not honestly depicted. Japanese anime Moomin & Tove’s original Moomin, they do look rather different, don’t they?
Despite the discrepancy, it was also undeniable that the Japanese Moomin cartoon endeared these fascinating characters from Finland to millions of the Japanese children and parents alike and found a permanent place in their hearts. I hope Miss.Jansson knew about it.

After stuffing ourselves with pancake at Bubby’s, mum and I took subway from Shinbashi and traveled to Kōrakuen, our next destination. The station was the closest to LaQua Tokyo Dome City, in which existed the Moomin Bakery & Cafe…

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Since the premises opened its door in 2003, the bakery had been introducing Finnish style baked treats to the Japanese bread lovers. Especially, rye bread is one of Finnish specialities. However, comparing it with its German counterpart, Finnish rye bread is sweetened with honey. And this sweet flavour really appeals to the Japanese tastebuds…

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We weren’t even remotely hungry after Bubby’s so decided to buy a few pastries for snack later on…

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Their shelves were laden with tempting looking breads…

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Many of them were not only cute to behold but also a tasty fusion of the Japanese & Finnish culinary cultures…

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Some pastries were literally out of the cartoon books..

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Amongst breads, there were also biscuits…

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and chocolate. Perfect as gifts…

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Small kitchen utensils were also on sale…

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A “Stuff It Yourself” goodie bag in various sizes…

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Fellow visitors were shopping for Moomin treats and souvenirs…

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We were a bit disappointed that they weren’t fully stocked with the Moomin merchandise.
Still, they sold some tableware…

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and party paraphernalia and phone straps…

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Cuddly toys for kids..

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and Moomin tote bags for grown-ups…

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Next to the bakery was a cafe with a special menu for Moomin fans…

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In spite of being an ordinary weekday afternoon, their tables were fully occupied…

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A kind diner allowed me a picture of her latte…

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and a plate of Moomin pancake…

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We bought some treats for ourselves…

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The pastries were filled with custard, one was flavoured with raspberry and the other with chocolate. They were really tasty.
I learnt recently that a Moomin themed amusement park are planned to open in Japan in 2015. Mum and I are really looking forward to visiting there together!

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Moomin Valley @ Covent Garden

It’s only two more days before Christmas Day!
Apparently, today’s lunchtime will be the busiest shopping time of the year. I can imagine the people scrambling for a last-minute shopping on the shop floors all over the Britain. On last Christmas Eve, I was one of them, being lost at the cosmetic counter in John Lewis, and didn’t know which till was available to pay. The frenzy transformed normally queue-respecting British shoppers into a desperate crowd, jockeying for position at the counters, doing everything to catch the attention of the staffs. It was a crazy sight and I vowed myself never to repeat the experience again.

For a more leisurely and magical Christmas retail escapade, Covent Garden is more apt for it…

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A unmissable reindeer will be a perfect landmark for meeting up.

The arcade is beautifully decorated with giant baubles…

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One shop I especially recommend for gift-hunting is The Moomin Shop

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As a child, growing up in Japan, the Moomins had been a familiar fixture through animations and cartoons…

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Therefore I was very excited when I learnt that the Moomin Shop were opening in Covent Garden – apart from Tokyo, London would be the first city to house the plump troll family out of their native Finland.

The shop is upstairs and adorable murals depicting the Moomin Valley gently nudge you up the stairs…

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The shop floor is compact and cozy…

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The staffs are knowledgeable & helpful and huge Moomin fans, of course!

On display are a collection of Moomin merchandise.
Cutlery, plates and lunch-boxes for children…

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Toys & bibs for babies and toddlers…

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Books & shopping bags…

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More bags & toiletries…

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Satchels & cushions…

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Cookie cutters…

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And a pretty apron with Snork Maiden for a little princess…

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I highly recommend the shop for anyone who is stuck with gift ideas but can’t face the crowd on Oxford Street.

It is rather sad that we will have to say good-bye to those pretty lights once Christmas is gone…

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Thanks to them, longer winter nights have been turned into more enchanting experience, haven’t they?
I shall miss them very much…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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