Tove Jansson Akebono Children's Park

Quirky buildings straight out of a story book

Lynda Hogan   - 2 min read

Tove Jansson Akebono Children's Forest is a free park in Hanno City in Saitama Prefecture. It used to be known fondly as "Moomin Valley", but they have worked to change the name in recent years since the opening of the Moominvalley theme Park and Metsa Village.

Tove Jansson Akebono Children's park is a free public park. It has several buildings that you can explore for free. Once upon a time, the park was quite off the tourist trail. When we first visited, more than ten years ago, there were only a handful of people there each time. We used to call it Saitama's best kept secret. But with the emergence of social media, the park - quite rightly - rose to fame and acclaim! It is now always bustling with activity.

They have also improved the accessibility of the park and the facilities on site during that period. And the latest addition, a beautiful cafe "Puisto" widened the appeal of the park to a broader market. The park now also runs several seasonal events. Currently, the weekend light up of the park is proving to be very popular.

Throughout the park you can find Moomin motifs. Inside the buildings they have Moomin pictures, paintings, statues and various paraphernalia. Even some of the iron railings on the administration building are of the Moomin characters. The architecture of all of the buildings is superb. The wooden detail is magnificent too. So if you are interested in architecture at all, this park is definitely worth a visit.

For children, apart from the joy of exploring this fun park, there are also several points of interest. For example, in the hall at the back of the administration building, there are some handmade toys left out for kids to play with. Also, one of the buildings is a library with dozens of Moomin (and other) books. Some of their books are in the English language. There is a tree house on the east side of the lake. And several statues to be found on the grounds for an impromptu scavenger hunt!

Getting there

The park is a little tricky to spot, located at the east end of Hanno Gymnastics Center. However, nowadays it is well sign posted. And the Cainz next door is a good landmark.

The nearest station is Motokaji on the Seibu Ikebukuro Line. The park is about a 20 to 30 minute walk from the station.

Lynda Hogan

Lynda Hogan @lynda.hogan

Lynda has been in Japan for 20 years and blogging about Saitama on her personal blog insaitama.com for 14 of them.  Despite its central location, just North of Tokyo, Saitama is still quite unknown to the international tourist, but frequented by domestic travelers. It is a great place to experien...