A trip to Moomin Valley
Do you know the Moomins? The Moomins are characters in a series of books and animations written by a Finnish illustrator and author called Tove Jansson between 1945 and 1993. They are a family of white, round fairy tale characters with large snouts like hippos. Moomins are popular all over the world, and I was surprised to find that there is even a connection to Moomins in Tohoku, Japan. Do you know what it is?
On the border of Akita and Iwate Prefectures, there is an active stratovolcano called Mount Akita-Komagatake that last erupted in 1970-71. If you take the hiking trail from Kunimi Hot Springs on the Iwate side, you pass through a beautiful valley with many flowers blooming in the early summer. The name which has been given to the valley is “Moomin Valley,” or ムーミン谷 in Japanese. I wonder how it got this name. Perhaps it got this name because the area is a place for a “calm and peaceful life,” yet there is always a threat of natural forces such as an erupting volcano and flooding, like in the stories.
I was lucky to find a Moomin in the valley when I visited the mountain last weekend. We can also see many small flowers called “chinguruma” at this time of year. In English, they are called “Aleutian avens.” There are many other flowers blooming in late June and early July too. Why don’t you take a trip to Akita Komagatake if you have a chance? Moomins are waiting for you!