“I was drawn into the world. The characters, the stories, and Moominvalley itself.”

Chihiro Harada was one of many children enthralled by the Moomin anime series that aired on Fuji TV in Japan between 1969 and 1970. Others were less enthralled by this show – including Tove Jansson,tovetokyo2 who disliked the major changes in the personalities and even the names of the characters. Don’t expect to see this one coming to DVD anytime soon.

Harada’s connection with the world of Moomin was so strong that she was compelled to make a bold move: to write to Tove Jansson. Writing in Japanese – she was in elementary school, after all – she didn’t really expect a reply.

But Jansson was dedicated to her fans, and spent long hours answering correspondence. A mere linguistic stumbling block wasn’t going to prevent her from replying to this young girl who’d reached out halfway around the world. And so, having found someone to translate the text, she replied.

This started a correspondence that continued until Tove’s death in 2001, with Chihiro Harada writing at Christmas every year; Tove Jansson replied whenever she could, sometimes sending Moominerabilia with her letters.

Chihiro Harada finally made the journey to Finland, to visit the address that she’d sent all of these letters to. “It was amazing to see that the Jansson name is still on the letterbox,” she said. “It made the world of Tove and Moomins even more real.”