Stuffed animals keep lonely diners company in Japan

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Move over cat cafes. There’s another quirky dining concept set to take the world by storm.

The Moomin Cafe franchise based in Japan has a cure for lonely diner syndrome: stuffed animals. That's right, solo diners at these cafes are seated across from a stuffed animal resembling the hippo-like creatures featured in a Finnish children's book series called, "Moomin," which became a big hit in Japan. "Moomin" also was turned into a popular animated television series, and the chubby characters remain beloved by many locals.

Diners may find themselves sharing a meal with characters called The Snork Maiden or Moomintroll. The stuffed animals are dressed for the occasion, with female characters wearing flowers atop their heads, while male characters sport jaunty hats. The menu also pays homage to the Finnish picture book series. “Moomin” fans will enjoy unique story-related décor at each franchise location.

According to CNN, the three Moomin House Cafe locations in Japan are packed on weekends. While theme restaurants are not a new concept, it remains to be seen if dining with stuffed animals becomes a trend outside of Japan.