Leisure & Culture #41

Better to Experience

Akebono Children's Forest Park

Written by Kit Chan
Translated by Derek Leung
Image by Kit Chan & www.city.hanno.lg.jp

Akebono Children's Forest Park, or Akebono Kodomonomori Koen in Japanese, is a well-known must-go for family activities and a Moomin (aka LuLu Rice in Taiwanese) Valley-come-true, so much so that any fan of the illustrations of Moomin should have heard in Nanno City of Saitama Perfecture, Japan.

Finally here I arrive after times of photo appreciation and this architecture even established 20 years ago is still considered incredibly inspirational:

how can it be qualified as an ideal park?

Here is the background: It is not destined to be another theme park as it has always been open for free visits without worries about ticket sale. It is the park completely for the people: In 1991, the Minister of Construction (similar to the Secretary for Development in HKSAR Government) in Japan conducted an opinion poll on the theme for the construction of a memorial park in Hanno. The Moomin family, thanks to its overwhelming popularity among Japanese, got most votes and hence being the theme of the forest park recognized by the author as the only Moomin park outside Finland with its completion in 1997.

Here is unlike the theme parks within your expectation:

Akebono Children's Forest Park sees no machine games, no restaurants, no performances by or photo-taking with comic characters and even no hard-selling promotional paper installations.

While today's theme parks do their utmost to entertain and have all visitors buying souvenirs, Akebono Children's Forest Park seems nothing but tranquil and in particular extraordinary with precise and skilful presentation of the global view found in Moomin's illustrations.

Given the presence of the park for appreciation, why not take one step further to experience Moomin and lead a simple routine life like its in its village?

Behind the park stand the towering mountains and lush green trees, and through it run the streams of different levels. A stroll along the water is a circular walk among three eye-catching main structures of fantasy.

A Moomin house made of diatomaceous earth standing in the lawn as a huge mushroom manages to keep the indoor air fresh by breaking down pollutants, and most importantly to give the house a down-to-earth image of simple elegance and affinity.

Not for the adults who have to bend when entering, the unusual short ceiling height, the smooth curvy staircase railing without right angles, the ground-level doors and windows in tandem with a range of cave-like rooms for sneaking in and out are doubtlessly the design tailor-made for the children, whereas those workable stoves and special mini furniture provide a setting for your temporary escape from the reality and as a short guest visit to Moomin's residence.

Another hat-like house is a theatre for children, with its roof reminiscent of the iconic costume of Moomin's friend Snufkin which defines beauty and rejuvenation. In addition to it finds a huge library with wavy mural features made in fine details of 149 panels of cypress wood locally grown in the city.

Showing four seasons with respective beauty and experiences, the entire park is full of inevitable Nature's features with which children can further explore originality and sympathy together with the importance of living and caring through play.

However much you like Moomin, you are invited to understand how people 20 years ago saw the park.

A beautiful park needs not please anybody because happiness relies on imagination and the latter is considered the largest playground in the world.

Akebono Children's Forest Park

1, Lot 893, Oaza Namiyanagi, Hanno City, Saitama Perfecture, Japan