Osaka, Japan’s Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum (the “Cup Noodles Museum”) is a magical place dedicated to all things ramen. It’s a place that allows you to jump into the production process of instant noodles, and learn about the history of the Cup Noodles as well as its creator, Momofuku Ando. In this post, we’ll give you a photo tour of the Cup Noodles Museum, and share thoughts from our experience there.
At this point, it should be pretty obvious that we’re serious ramen enthusiasts. From our attempts to find the best bowl of ramen in Los Angeles to this being the second ramen museum we’ve visited in Japan (after the ramen “theme” park known as the Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum), we are lovers of ramen.
It’s a beautiful dish in its taste and deceiving complexity, and it’s always an inexpensive lunch option. If you’ve dismissed ramen as the domain of poor college students, we’d (once again) implore you to get past your preconceptions. Today’s ramen is not just enjoyed by college students, but also by serious foodies and everyone in between. However, that’s a different rant for a different day. For now, let’s take a look at Osaka’s ramen museum…
Let’s begin with the basics. There are actually two Cup Noodles Museums in Japan. The original (the one we visited, and what’s pictured here) is in Osaka’s Ikeda City, with the newer one in Yokohama’s Minato Mirai District.
The Osaka original is sometimes distinguished via the name Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum, but both are also known as simply Cup Noodles Museum.
The good news is that both of these museums are more or less the same, so planning info for one will apply equally to the other (minus transit details, obviously). The Cup Noodles museum is an interactive place with visual displays detailing the history of instant ramen noodles in Japan.
All of these exhibits are very engaging, with nothing that is even remotely dry or dull. Even though it’s not exclusively aimed at kids, I’d describe this as a children’s museum but with ramen as the topic.
In addition to the fun displays, there are several hands-on workshops and touchable areas to explore. These range from showcasing the various varieties of ramen that have been sent into space for astronauts to a faithful recreation of the work shed where the world’s first instant noodles were invented.
These displays do a remarkable job of toeing the line between being entertaining and educational, and one of the great things about the visual nature of the museum is that you can glean quite a bit regardless of your language.
The Instant Noodles Tunnel is also incredibly popular, especially among guests wanting a fun selfie of themselves ‘immersed’ in noodle packaging.
This tunnel features a timeline of 800 product packages, and in addition to being very Instagram-able, it also showcases how ramen has evolved from a single packaged product to a way of life.
There’s also a variety of ephemera, packaging, and marketing materials on display. One of these exhibits (“Momofuku Ando and the Story of Instant Noodles”) details the founder and the value of intellectual property in ramen, but it was in Japanese-only. This was the only area of the museum where not speaking Japanese felt like something of a limitation.
The museum shows a short film introducing the history of instant noodles, in a theater shaped like a giant Cup Noodles package (because this is Japan, and of course everything must be that cute).
A small collection of modern art and historical ‘artifacts’ are also on display. This is fascinating to the extent that it really underscores the degree to which ramen has permeated all aspects of Japan’s culture.
The art is meant to represent Nissin’s approach to creating new and innovative products, and the historical pieces have a way of doing the same, as they demonstrate just how far the company has come in pushing the envelope and making technical strides.
By far the highlight of the Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum are its two factories, the Chicken Ramen Factory and My CUPNOODLES Factory.
Each of these cost extra (the amount for them is very fair), and can have a lengthy wait due to their lower capacity, or even sell out of tickets on busier days.
The Chicken Ramen Factory gives visitors the opportunity to create ramen noodles. This includes the entire hands-on process of kneading, spreading, steaming, and seasoning the wheat flour, followed by drying it with the flash frying method.
Plus, you get a fancy chicken headband, which is a stylish fashion accessory for any season. We did not have the chance to do this as it was sold out, but it looked really cool. (It’s clearly aimed at students, but we saw a few adults doing it, too.)
The My CUPNOODLES Factory was the most popular exhibit in the museum when we went, and for good reason.
Here, you design and create your own Cup Noodles packaging, and then select your favorite soup from four varieties as well as four toppings, and watch as it’s all sealed and packaged along the assembly line.
That might not sound particularly exciting when conveyed via text, but we had an absolute blast doing this, as did virtually everyone in our immediate vicinity.
The final creation was basically a giant air-packaged Cup Noodles “necklace” and we proudly wore them around the rest of our day in Osaka. This felt like a distinctly Japanese experience, and we highly recommend it.
Basic entrance to the Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum is free (as is the case with many corporate museums in Japan), so they are essentially counting on guests to either pay for one of the upcharge factory options or purchase something from the gift shop.
With each of these factory offerings costing ~$3, it’s not as if Cup Noodles is making a killing on those, either. More than anything, this museum feels like a goodwill gesture, which is pretty cool. With one of these factory experiences, you should plan on spending around 2 hours at the Cup Noodles Museum.
The Cup Noodles Museum in Osaka was pretty much perfect. With one also in Yokohama, you could easily visit this and the Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum for a comprehensive culinary and educational experience with ramen.
One of our biggest complaints about that museum (or “ramen theme park” as they call it) was that it was lacking in the educational component, and didn’t really feel like a museum. This fulfills that criteria, and also presents a variety of interactive experiences that make it flat-out entertaining.
Overall, we’d highly recommend the Cup Noodles Museum. It’s uniquely Japanese both in terms of the subject matter and in the presentation of the exhibits, and one thing we appreciate when traveling is experiences that are representative of their location. Japan has no shortage of that type of place, and while no one is going to book a flight to Japan to see a Cup Noodles Museum, it’s definitely a solid way to round out your itinerary in Osaka.
Have you visited Osaka’s Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum? If you’re crazy like us and have been to multiple ramen museums, how do you feel it compared to those? Do you agree with my assessment, or would you recommend skipping the Cup Noodles Museum? If you have not visited this (or any) ramen museum, is this something that would interest you on a trip to Japan? Any thoughts or tips of your own to add? Share any other questions or thoughts you have in the comments!