Seeking Spice in Japan 3: The Instant Ramen Museum, Osaka
A new typhoon got me off the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage path earlier than I had planned. Rain would not stop me from seeing more of Osaka, famous as a food-obsessed city even within a country as strongly into food culture as Japan.
Step 1, now that I had the time for it: The Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum (a.k.a. Cupnoodles Museum) in the Ikeda District of Osaka.
Ikeda Station on the Hankyu-Takarazuka line is pretty close by and the same Suica card usable for the Tokyo subway also works here; Google Maps easily enough guides one there. Thus, even though this place is somewhat outside of the areas of Osaka that are often visited, it is all easy enough to get to and find.
Entrance into the museum is free, only the “Design your own” Cupnoodle Factory requires a payment. There, one can create one’s own Cup Noodle.
First, you get the cup, with a lid to keep it sanitary from a vending machine (hence, payment). Have an attendant guide you to a seat at one of the long tables, and then it’s handicrafts time: Decorate it as you wish.
Then head to the stations for the filling, where you hand over the cup, rotate it after a helpful attendant put it into a machine to get the dried noodles in.
Step over to the ingredients and tell them what soup base and three fillings you’d like.
Another step, and you can check your own personal cup get vacuum-sealed.
Finally, put it into the bag and air-fill, a bit bubble-wrap-like (except it makes the whole bag one big bubble).
This is all quite silly, but in a child’s play way that seems rather fitting for Japan. And it’s interesting to see what flavorings are on offer and to consider how to combine them.
On the way to the DIY, you move past a replica of the hut in which the development of the Cup Noodle instant ramen started.
Walk on (on the right) past a (Japanese-only) installation talking in depth about that history, all the way to the ramen making it into space. And most impressively, on the left wall, check out the noodle cup-timeline of products, from the founding to the present (where the presentation had to expand onto the ceiling to have enough room).
Still not that many more flavorings than you could have put into your own personally designed cup, but quite the product range.
With a bit of pre-planning, you could also register to go on a factory tour, if I saw that right. This I did not go for. Neither did I eat my ramen right there, which one could also do.
The small gift shop was quite cute. Kawaii.
But, I stepped outside again into the drizzle and went into the Ippudo Ramen a few steps down the road, back towards the railway station…