People of many different nationalities and walks of life, from the Japanese businessman to the American college student, fondly recognize the classic foam cup with the red lettering that reads “Cup Noodles.” At the Instant Ramen Museum in Osaka, Japanese-speaking visitors can get an in-depth look at the history and evolution of this iconic food. However, even non-Japanese speakers can learn the basic history of instant ramen and its founder, Momofuku Ando, from the museum’s many informative displays. Most importantly, no matter what language you speak, all guests young and old can enjoy the make-your-own Cup of Noodles bar at the conclusion of the exhibit, as well as take a photo next to a life-size cup of noodles to commemorate your visit!
Learn the history of instant ramen through this fascinating display
Whether you enjoy the convenient Japanese snack or not, the Instant Ramen Museum makes for a fascinating trip. The majority of the information about the history of the snack and the details of its production is in Japanese; however, even non-Japanese speakers can glean information from the displays, such as one wall that runs the length of the exhibit and forms the colorful ‘tunnel,’ which showcases how the packaging of Instant Ramen has changed since its introduction in 1958. In addition, brochures that explain the main points of the exhibit are available at the museum’s entrance in all major languages, including English, so non-Japanese speaking guests can guide themselves through the basic areas of the exhibit.
Prestigious awards on display for the creator of instant ramen
The idea of a museum devoted to the inexpensive, mass-produced snack may seem strange to some, but each guest will understand the importance of instant ramen by the end of the exhibit. A good portion of the information relates to Momofuku Ando, the inventor of the snack. Visitors will learn that he and his creation are commemorated with a museum because of the impact instant ramen has made on modern culture, especially in, though not limited to Asia. A copy of Time Magazine and a Time Asian Hero award for Mr. Ando are displayed under glass; he received the award for “shaping the Asia of our times.” Artifacts like these convey the widespread impact of this simple food to museum visitors.
The Instant Ramen Museum is a great way to spend roughly thirty minutes, both for foreign tourists as well as Japanese tourists, because it uses the beloved snack to show the progression of modern popular culture in Asia as a whole over the last fifty years. It also serves as a showcase of the continent-wide and worldwide impact that one man’s simple creation can have. Non-Japanese speakers need not worry, because English and Mandarin audio guides are available for a refundable deposit of 2,000 JPY (16.62 USD).
Customize your cup of noodles
No reservation is necessary to enter the museum, though large groups may want to call ahead, because large groups of Japanese elementary students often visit during the weekdays. Entrance to the museum is completely free. However, visitors are advised to still bring pocket money, as there is a ramen-themed gift shop at the end of the exhibit, as well as a make-your-own Cup of Noodles bar, which can be enjoyed for a small fee.
Arguably the most enjoyable part of the museum, especially for younger visitors, is the custom Cup of Noodles bar. Empty styrofoam cups with the classic Cup Noodles logo can be purchased from a vending machine with coins for 300 JPY (2.41 USD). Colored markers are available for personalization of your cup before heading up to the ingredients bar, where visitors can choose one of four different flavorings and four of eleven different ingredients.
Cheerful employees then take the cups, and guests can watch through glass as they are filled with dried noodles, followed by the flavoring and ingredients each guest has chosen. Staff are very friendly and speak Japanese and enough English for all visitors to easily personalize their own Cup of Noodles. The cups are then sealed and placed in a bag for one to carry easily; a small cafeteria is just off the main exhibition hall where guests can purchase assorted types of instant noodle cups from vending machines if they feel hungry, as the personalized cups are only allowed to be taken home as souvenirs.
Take your photo with a life-sized cup of noodles!
The Instant Ramen Museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 9:30am – 4:00pm. Children are welcome, and will surely enjoy the custom Cup of Noodles bar. A life-sized cup of noodles is also on display for a unique photo opportunity. The 2nd level of the building offers classes on making the ramen noodles for 500 JPY (4 USD): a cheaper cooking class than you’ll find anywhere else! Call ahead for reservations, especially for large groups. Depending on the season, classes can fill up fast, so call at least a few weeks ahead.
Complete your Osaka trip with a visit to the Instant Ramen Museum
The museum is easy to find with the right instructions. Take the train to Ikeda Station, and take the exit for “Hankyu Kids World Ikeda.” Continue straight down the road you’ll face when you exit for 8-10 minutes. Turn left just after a church on your right side with a large Noah’s Ark stained glass window, and you’ll see the building in front of you. Finding a picture of the outside of the building on the Internet beforehand may be helpful; it’s large and made of red brick and glass. It’s lovely and official-looking: not exactly what you would expect for a noodle museum!
If you find yourself with extra time in Osaka, take the train to the Instant Ramen Museum in Ikeda. Guests of all ages and nationalities will enjoy the commemoration to Asia’s beloved snack, not to mention their own inexpensive, custom Cup of Noodles to take home as a delicious souvenir!
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