JAPAN: YOKOHAMA, CUP NOODLES MUSEUM.

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And here begins the influx of Japan-based posts I probably should of started weeding through many months before. But let’s stop focusing on my delayed-posting-based regret, and start regaling tales about this absolutely astonishing building – the CupNoodles Museum in Yokohama. The sister noodle-y establishment of the Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum (インスタントラーメン発明記念館) in Osaka, this unassuming building is packed to the rim with interesting cup noodle facts and figures.  Dedicated to instant noodle and Cup Noodles history, as well as its creator and founder, Momofuku Ando -  and a spiffy 8 minute walk from the Minatomirai line Minatomirai Station, this red-bricked block of a building is somewhat ridiculously large. The interior of the building resembles that of a fine art museum - high ceilings, large white spaces and perfectly spaced displays dot the area with simplistic panache. 

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There are a number of exhibits and attractions in the museum - including the big draw for me - the opportunity to make my very own cup noodles. Yup, when you enter you’ll be able to buy a pass to the Chicken Ramen Factory and/or the My CUPNOODLES Factory. Not being one who is particularly into spending about an hour of my time awaiting a small pack of noodles to spit out of a fryer (although, it does somewhat appeal to my love of fried foods), my hus band and I decided to partake in the My CUPNOODLES Factory hands-on experience. Here, at the cost of 300 yen each, we were were given the opportunity to create our own, completely original CUPNOODLES packaging with some nifty markers and were able to select our favourite soup from among four varieties and four toppings from among 12 ingredients. Altogether, there are 5,460 possible flavour combinations. MIND. BLOWN.

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Although there was a very long line, we soon found ourselves with blank cups, shown to a table and were given the task of decorating our cups with said markers.  Much to the amusement of the other people seated at our table (a set of middle-aged women and a pair of teenagers), we quickly bedecked our cups with nonsense slogans and sparkly hearts. A particularly artistic middle-aged おばあさん was making a throughly elegant effort and decorating her styrofoam cup with a perfect representation of the Chicken Ramen Mascot. My husband was quite content with slathering his cup with the words “SUCH NOODLE, SO WOW” in a heart-warming cobalt blue.

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After finishing off our cups, we were then led to a second line, in which we waited patiently for the workers behind the large counters to show us how they filled the cups with noodles (upside-down) – they then added our preferred flavours and then proceeded to cling-wrap them in what I can only describe as a big rolling oven.

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After collecting our noodles and then placing them in inflatable noodle-protecting packaging, we then wandered about to explore the other astonishing displays in the building – including the menacing Instant Noodles History Cube – a perspex cubed room displaying over 3,000 different types of instant noodles that sprouted off the original Chicken Ramen discovery.

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Another astonishing section of the museum is the fabulous Noodles Bazaar – which is set up to resemble an actual asian night market – so convincingly so that there is actual background running soundtrack complete with beeping scooters and foot-traffic. There may have been a moo or two thrown in the track as well. The menu for this food attraction features eight varieties of noodles that Momofuku Ando encountered during his travels in search of ramen’s origins – at around 300 yen for a sample bowl. Which isn’t too shabby if you’re looking for a creative and fun way to fill up on a huge variety of yummy choices. We decided to try both the Vietnamese Pho and the Malaysian laksa.

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Another astonishing little addition to the museum was the replica of Momofuku’s Work Shed – This little shed was created to look exactly like the place where Momofuku created the world’s first instant ramen. The message of this little shed is, “that even without any special equipment it is possible to create world changing inventions with just ordinary tools as long as there is an idea.”

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An amazing sculpture of cup noodles that I couldn’t stop staring at.

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Obligatory souvenir picture with Cup Noodles, and the man himself, Momofuku Ando, and a bunch of other fabulous men (and a woman). Also, did you know that Momofuku Ando was originally Taiwanese, had been jailed for two years due to tax evasion and passed away at the stately age of 96, claiming that the secret of his long life was playing golf and eating Chikin Ramen (Chicken Ramen) almost every day.

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GIANT INFLATED CUP NOODLE THING. MUST TAKE A PICTURE WITH IT.

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Just an FYI – most displays are Japanese only – some do have English captions, but they’re not as indepth as one would like. To counter this, you can put down a 2,000 yen deposit for one of these awesome audio guides. The deposit will be returned to you on the return of the device – although I really wanted a way to keep the spiffy lanyard.

GET THERE:

Train:

  • 8 minute walk from the Minatomirai line Minatomirai Station
  • 8 minute walk from the Minatomirai line Bashamichi Station
  • 12 minute walk from the JR/Shieichikatetsu Sakuragicho Station
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