Japan's 'anti-loneliness' cafe goes viral
May 16, 2014 -- Updated 0310 GMT (1110 HKT)
At Tokyo's Moomin House Cafe, lone patrons are seated with a plush toy for company.
Dining alone without dining alone
"Did you feel loved today?"
Finn Family Moomintroll
"Table for one. Er, two. You know what I mean."
"Your fringe looks beautiful today"
- 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
Today's five most popular stories
Part of complete coverage on
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 1056 GMT (1856 HKT)
Nonprofit Ethical Traveler has released its annual list of the developing countries doing the most to promote human rights and preserve their environments.
December 11, 2014 -- Updated 1036 GMT (1836 HKT)
These waterfront watering holes have killer ocean views, creative drinks and the mahalo vibe we demand.
December 10, 2014 -- Updated 2038 GMT (0438 HKT)
Can't wait to book your ticket to Indianapolis and Oakland? The venerable guidebook is right there with you
December 10, 2014 -- Updated 0625 GMT (1425 HKT)
By helicopter, snowmobile and big-wheel truck across some of the world's most volatile landscapes.
December 9, 2014 -- Updated 2142 GMT (0542 HKT)
Construction begins on a new Singapore airport complex that could make delays and layovers a pleasure.
December 9, 2014 -- Updated 1441 GMT (2241 HKT)
Inflight chatterboxes are annoying but they're not the worst violators of onboard etiquette, according to an Expedia study.
December 8, 2014 -- Updated 2232 GMT (0632 HKT)
These statues are awe-inspiring even for the strongest of non-believers.
December 5, 2014 -- Updated 1659 GMT (0059 HKT)
25 years after the death of Romania's communist dictator, tourism is helping heal old wounds.
December 5, 2014 -- Updated 1152 GMT (1952 HKT)
Photo sharing website names the top 10 destinations for geo-tagged snapshots.
December 3, 2014 -- Updated 1005 GMT (1805 HKT)
New York may be a paradise of Zagat-rated, Michelin-starred restaurants, but some of its best food can be found on the streets.
December 2, 2014 -- Updated 0601 GMT (1401 HKT)
Chobe Game Lodge in Botswana ups the eco stakes with what it claims is world's first battery-powered safari fleet.
November 24, 2014 -- Updated 0118 GMT (0918 HKT)
These quirky and beautiful subway stops make standing cheek-to-cheek with 45 strangers almost seem fun.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 1314 GMT (2114 HKT)
Luxury vintage Land Rover tours explore Bedouin backwaters without bashing up precious dunes.