The premises of the Embassy of Finland in Tokyo were filled with cheery voices on July 29 when about thirty Japanese mothers with their children participated in a Moomin book reading event organized together with the World Reads for Children project.
During the afternoon Hanna-Liisa Peltoniemi from the embassy made a presentation in Japanese about Finland, Finnish nature, culture, education and library system. Santa Claus and Moomin were already known among the audience, as were the northern lights, but during the presentation they also learned about the midsummer white nights, sauna and how children dress as witches during the Easter time.
After the presentation was time for some discussion. The Japanese mothers were especially interested in the Finnish education system and the results students have achieved. A point of particular interest was how pupils in Finland do so well in their studies despite not having nearly as much homework nor juku-style supplementary lessons as here in Japan.
Finally it was time for more entertaining part of the program, the book reading. Children aged from one to eleven sat cozily on the furry carpet with cushions to listen to the Moomin-classic Kuinkas sitten kävikään? (“The Book about Moomin, Mymble and Littly My; What do you think happend then?”) The book was read in Finnish to let the audience hear the original rhythm and rhyming but the beautiful illustrations and Japanese commentary helped the non-Finnish-speaking audience to follow the storyline.
The book reading was followed by a catchy Finnish children’s song that got both the parents and the children to show some dance moves. The afternoon continued with some refreshments and Moomin colouring tasks while the parents were able to engage in a conversation about Finland. At the end of the day the guests received gift bags with some Finland and Moomin related materials to bring home.