Skip to main content

Japan's 'anti-loneliness' cafe goes viral

By Frances Cha, CNN
updated 11:10 PM EDT, Thu May 15, 2014
At Tokyo's Moomin House Cafe, lone patrons are seated with a plush toy for company. At Tokyo's Moomin House Cafe, lone patrons are seated with a plush toy for company.
HIDE CAPTION
Dining alone without dining alone
"Did you feel loved today?"
Finn Family Moomintroll
"Table for one. Er, two. You know what I mean."
Tokyo Dome
"Your fringe looks beautiful today"
Destination Moomin
Character cookies
Moomin Valley
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • At Tokyo's Moomin House Cafe, lone patrons are seated with a stuffed animal for company
  • The cafe has seen a surge in visitors since its "anti-loneliness" concept went viral
  • Originally from Finland, Moomin characters are popular in Japan

(CNN) -- Talk about creative coping mechanisms for being alone -- from the blogger who photographs selfies with his imaginary girlfriend to the company that takes your stuffed animals on vacation without you, Japan appears to be cornering the market on accommodating solo travelers.

You can now add the "anti-loneliness" Moomin House Cafe to the menagerie of "wait, what?" strokes of Japanese brilliance.

We first wrote about the Moomin House Cafe in 2012, but the cafe went viral a few weeks ago and has since been besieged with customers wanting a taste of its "anti-loneliness" magic. CNN's Yuki Arawaka paid a visit (see gallery photos) following the cafe's new surge in popularity.

To save its lone customers from the awkward perils of solo dining, the cafe kindly seats diners with stuffed animal companions called Moomins, a family of white hippo-like characters created by Finnish illustrator and writer Tove Jansson.

Moomins are brought to each table so that patrons -- solo or in groups -- can have a turn sitting with them.

Weekday mornings are the quietest time, while weekends are packed all day long.

Sukiyabashi Jiro: The world's best sushi bar

Respecting Moomin culture

To honor the characters' heritage, Moomin House Cafe serves bread made from Finnish rye, and offers food and pastries in the form of Moomin characters.

Cafe staff say there have been long lines almost every day since its "lonely-friendly" concept went viral.

It's a long overdue turn in the spotlight -- the cafe has been open since 2003.

There are now three Moomin Cafe locations in Japan -- the Tokyo Dome location is especially popular with Dome concert goers.

Beloved for their whimsical adventures and diverse array of characters, Moomins are celebrated in their home country of Finland and anime-obsessed Japan.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of their creator, Tove Jansson, who was born in 1914 and died in 2001.

A Moomin theme park is a popular destination in Finland.

Another one is slated to open next year in Japan.

Moomin House Cafe, Tokyo Dome City LaQua shop, 1-1-1 Kasuga, Bunkyo, Tokyo; +81 3 5842 6300; 8 a.m.-10 p.m.

11 extremely practical Japan travel tips

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 5:56 AM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
Nonprofit Ethical Traveler has released its annual list of the developing countries doing the most to promote human rights and preserve their environments.
updated 5:36 AM EST, Thu December 11, 2014
These waterfront watering holes have killer ocean views, creative drinks and the mahalo vibe we demand.
updated 3:38 PM EST, Wed December 10, 2014
Can't wait to book your ticket to Indianapolis and Oakland? The venerable guidebook is right there with you
updated 1:25 AM EST, Wed December 10, 2014
By helicopter, snowmobile and big-wheel truck across some of the world's most volatile landscapes.
updated 4:42 PM EST, Tue December 9, 2014
Construction begins on a new Singapore airport complex that could make delays and layovers a pleasure.
updated 9:41 AM EST, Tue December 9, 2014
Inflight chatterboxes are annoying but they're not the worst violators of onboard etiquette, according to an Expedia study.
updated 5:32 PM EST, Mon December 8, 2014
These statues are awe-inspiring even for the strongest of non-believers.
updated 11:59 AM EST, Fri December 5, 2014
The Palace of the Parliament, built by former Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.
25 years after the death of Romania's communist dictator, tourism is helping heal old wounds.
updated 6:52 AM EST, Fri December 5, 2014
Photo sharing website names the top 10 destinations for geo-tagged snapshots.
updated 5:05 AM EST, Wed December 3, 2014
New York may be a paradise of Zagat-rated, Michelin-starred restaurants, but some of its best food can be found on the streets.
updated 1:01 AM EST, Tue December 2, 2014
Guide Lebo behind the wheel of Chobe Game Lodge's first electric game viewing vehicle, at Chobe National Park in Botswana.
Chobe Game Lodge in Botswana ups the eco stakes with what it claims is world's first battery-powered safari fleet.
updated 8:18 PM EST, Sun November 23, 2014
The interior of the Formosa Boulevard Mass Rapid Transit Station in Kaohsiung, in southern Taiwan.
These quirky and beautiful subway stops make standing cheek-to-cheek with 45 strangers almost seem fun.
updated 8:14 AM EST, Fri November 21, 2014
A scene from a desert safari in Dubai
Luxury vintage Land Rover tours explore Bedouin backwaters without bashing up precious dunes.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT