Foreign Minister Timo Soini and His Japanese Counterpart Agree on the Location of Moominvalley
The location of Moominvalley has been settled.
Two ministers, the Finnish Foreign Minister Timo Soini and his Japanese counterpart, Taro Kono, settled the matter in Tokyo, where Soini visited recently for official talks. “Now we know where the Moomin is, it is in each of our hearts, so we can be very relaxed that this problem is over,” Soini said.
The Moomins took Japan by storm already in the early ‘70s, when a loosely based animation of their creator Tove Jansson’s popular books was broadcast on Fuji Television. But without the consent of their Finnish-Swedish creator, the series contained violence, cars and drinking something stronger than the raspberry juice.
Then in the ‘90s, another anime adaptation emerged on TV Tokyo, and this time it was done right. After the series started airing worldwide, it sparked a Moomin Boom unseen before. It fueled a large merchandising industry of cups, T-shirts and plastic figures.
Today, Moomin Characters Oy LTD sells licenses to companies to use the name in their products. It’s a well-known fact that if the toothpaste has Moominpappa brushing his teeth on it, it will sell triple. In 2015, the company profited 6.2 million euros by selling licenses only.
But why did the location of Moominvalley raise questions between the ministers in the first place? Everyone knows its in Finland. Or maybe not . . . . The confusing question of its location was asked on the annual university entrance exam in Japan in January, and the question left Japanese students bewildered. All it takes is one incorrect answer, and the following year could be spent getting ready for next year’s Moomin question.
The correct answers were made public after the test, and Finland was said to be the home of the Moominvalley. Naturally, the Moomin also speak Finnish. And naturally a student outrage took over the social media. A hashtag translating to “unforgivable Moomin” quickly became a top trending phrase in Japanese Twitter feeds.
Maybe it indeed takes two foreign ministers to sort this one out.