Instant noodles are probably my favorite savory invention to date. They are cheap, convenient, and so deliciously addictive. If you don’t know what instant noodles are, all you need to do is add boiling water, wait 3 minutes, and then you’ve got yourself a meal.
Recently, my girlfriend and I were hooked on the limited-edition Afuri instant noodles manufactured by Nissin Foods. We liked it so much we cleared the stock at the nearest supermarket. When we heard we could make our own custom instant noodles at the CUP NOODLE Museum, we knew we had to go try it out.
There are two CUPNOODLE museums in Japan: one in Yokohama and one in Osaka. Since the main activities are generally the same at both locations, we went to the Yokohama museum since it was more accessible for us.
Although the purpose of our visit was primarily to make our own CUP NOODLES, the museum itself was more actually entertaining than we anticipated. It’s basically an animated history book made to commemorate the founder of instant ramen and the story behind his worldwide success.
The Father of Instant Ramen
Instant ramen has a relatively short but interesting history. The first instant noodles, simply called Chicken Ramen, was invented by Momofuku Ando in 1958 at the age of 48. He started with no experience in making ramen, and so it took about a year of trial and error to finally get it right.
Even after he got it right though, he never stopped innovating. In 1971, he invented CUP NOODLES, which launched instant noodles into a globally-consumed food. Then in 2005, he created space ramen, Space Ram, at the age of 95.
CUPNOODLE Museum Overview
At the CUPNOODLES Museum Yokohama, there are several attractions, such as the My CUPNOODLES Factory, the Chicken Ramen Factory, and the CUPNOODLES Park. The My CUPNOODLES Factory is where you can design your own packaging, pick your favorite soup and ingredients, and watch the product go through a simplified version of its regular manufacturing process.
In the Chicken Ramen Factory, you learn to make Momofuku Ando’s first invention by hand. Lastly, the CUPNOODLES Park is an interactive attraction designed for children to learn about CUP NOODLES from the noodle’s point of view.
All the noodles making you hungry? Visit the NOODLES BAZAAR!
At the end of the museum, located on the fourth floor, is the NOODLES BAZAAR. It’s basically a food court specifically for noodle dishes, designed for visitors to enjoy noodle culture as Momofuku Ando experienced it. After Momofuku Ando created instant noodles, he had set out on a quest to discover the origins of noodles. The NOODLES BAZAAR features noodles from eight different countries that he encountered during those travels.
As a bonus, they also offer CUP NOODLE Ice Cream, where they serve soft-serve ice cream with CUP NOODLE’s freeze-dried toppings. I ended up ordering a curry-flavored ice cream—and strangely, I quite liked the taste of it.
The gift shop also offers some special foods and goods that usually aren’t sold in regular supermarkets, so you might want to go check it out when you visit.
The CUPNOODLES Museum is a great place to spend an afternoon for both adults and children. Even though we didn’t have enough time to do all of the activities, the entire trip still spanned about 2-3 hours long. If you are interested in going, I recommend getting there early so you can snatch a reservation ticket for the My CUPNOODLES Factory experience, which is distributed only on that day and cannot be reserved ahead of time. You can, however, make an online reservation for the Chicken Ramen Factory experience via the CUPNOODLES Museum website well in advance—and you should, as there are limited spots, and they tend to fill up fast!
Locations: Yokohama and Osaka
Hours: Yokohama 10 AM – 6 PM, Osaka 9:30 am – 4:30 PM (last entry 1 hour before closing)
- Yokohama Adults 500 yen / high school age children and younger admitted free
- Osaka Free of charge
- Chicken Ramen Factory: Elementary school students 300 yen / Adult (Junior high school students and older) 500 yen
- My CUPNOODLES Factory: 300 yen for each CUPNOODLE package
English Support: Yes
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