The port city of Yokohama is Japan’s largest city by population, located just 30 minutes by train south of Tokyo. It is home to a museum dedicated to that most common of Japanese staple foods – the ever-popular instant noodle. The CupNoodles museum is one of two in Japan (the other being the Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum in Osaka) centered around this famous food item. It is conveniently located at the harbour near Minatomirai Station, and is a fun and different way to spend an afternoon in the city.
While the museum is centered on the history of the instant noodle and its inventor, Momofuku Ando, a central underlying theme is innovation and the encouragement of creative thinking. Don’t expect dusty old exhibits (there are hardly any exhibits at all) and a boring, dry history lesson – this place is very much an interactive experience, as evidenced by the large number of kids having a really good time. Throughout the museum there are many references to how Ando overcame obstacles to become a modern Japanese folk hero – from his initial invention of instant ramen in 1958, the Cup Noodle in 1971, and space noodles in 2005 (when he was in his 90s). He is also the founder of Nissin Food Products, the company behind many of today’s instant noodle varieties.
The most popular area in the building is undoubtedly the third floor where the noodle “factories” are located. For a small fee, visitors can create their own customized instant ramen or cup noodles, and take them home as edible souvenirs. It gets super busy on weekends so probably a good idea to book a timeslot in advance if you’re hoping to make your own noodles.