Postcard From: The Cup Noodles Museum

Welcome to the Cup Noodles Museum!

This is probably not a museum many visitors to Japan know about, let alone would consider visiting on a trip to Japan, but we had a two-fold reason for checking out the Nissin Foods Cup Noodles Museum in Yokohama this time: 1) YaYu loves cup noodles, and 2) I taught English conversation at Nissin Foods from 1981-1983. Our son and grandson decided to join us on our visit to the museum last week, which turned out to be a good thing – without our son along we would have gone to the wrong station!

Cup noodles are a big deal in Japan, and come in an amazing array of flavors these days – there are whole aisles in markets dedicated to them. But, a whole museum devoted to cup noodles? As it turns out, instant and cup noodles are more than a quick and convenient meal in Japan – they are also an inexpensive and easy way to provide nourishment all over the world, especially following a disaster, something I had never considered. Momofuku Ando’s invention has proven to be far more than a convenience food, and has been truly life-saving in some cases.

The Cup Noodles museum is located next to Yokohama harbor, an eight-minute walk from Minatomirai station.

Not everything is as it seems!

The purpose of the museum is not only to tell the story of cup noodles, but to help stir creativity and curiosity in children, and show the power of creativity, invention, and determination in finding ways to achieve your goals and dreams. Ando’s motto, “Never give up!” is repeated throughout the museum.

I loved this interactive exhibit: When you touch the item on the wall, a picture of the item appears above it as well as the thing that inspired it, encouraging children to think creatively. The steam shovel, for example, was inspired by a bird (crane).

One of the beautiful sculptures in the museum. I looked closely and still couldn’t figure out what’s holding it up.

The museum has two interactive areas that cost a bit extra to experience: the Cup Noodle Factory, where you can make your own “custom” cup noodles, and the Chicken Ramen Factory, where you make your own instant ramen noodles from scratch and then oil-dry them to take home to prepare later. The Chicken Ramen Factory looked like a lot of fun – everyone from adult to child was wearing a souvenir head scarf and apron while they worked – but there was a long wait for an opening, so we decided to go to the Cup Noodle Factory. Upon entry to the “factory” we paid our 300¥ admission by purchasing a noodle cup. We were then directed to a table to write the date on our cup (the finished product is good for a month) and decorate our cups with our own design. There were also “menus” at each table with all the choices available to create our own cup noodles. We could chose one of four broth flavors, and any combination of four from 16 dehydrated ingredients. After we were done with our drawings we were sent to the “building area” where we presented our cup, and a cheerful employee created our custom cup noodles. Each cup was then given a lid and sealed in plastic, just like you’d find it in a store, and finally placed into an inflated plastic carrying pouch so that it didn’t get destroyed on the way home. The whole thing was a very Japanese experience and a lot of fun, but Brett and I donated our noodles to YaYu, who was happy to receive them.

The many dehydrated selections to add to your custom noodles

My noodles are done! I chose a seafood broth, and added crab, garlic chips, green beans and green onions.

The noodle cups are lidded and then sealed in plastic.

YaYu and her inflated cup noodles protection bag!

After making our noodles we toured the rest of the museum, and also spent a while out on the museum’s back deck taking in a spectacular view of Yokohama harbor. We enjoyed all the exhibits (our son translated for us), which include several sculptures. I especially liked the Instant Noodles History Cube, a room filled with all the varieties of noodles created from 1958 to the present. Part of the room was dedicated to all the many varieties available in countries all over the world. Cup noodles can be found on every continent but Antartica!

Inventor Momofuku Ando invented “oil drying” for ramen noodles, and in 1958 the first instant ramen was introduced in Japan. It was an immediate hit.

So many varieties of cup noodles these days!

Cup noodles are popular all over the world – these are noodles from Russian and Spain. The U.S. sells the largest variety of Nissin instant noodles outside of Japan.

After our visit to the museum, our son and grandson headed to a large amusement park located across the street from the museum (the huge roller coaster there is named “Vanish” because at one point it disappears underground – no thanks!) while Brett, YaYu and I headed over to Yokohama’s Chinatown, just four more stops down on the train. We met up later at Minatomirai station at Mr. Donut for a snack and then went to the Takashimaya department store to find Hato Sabure.

A small portion of the amusement park across the street from the museum. Our grandson refused to ride either the ferris wheel or the roller coaster – smart boy! There were some other rides that scared me just to look at them.

The entrance to Yokohama’s Chinatown.

The Cup Noodle Museum might not be on everyone’s list of “must-see” places in Japan, but it was a unique and interesting place to visit, even if you don’t care for cup noodles. I’d go again!

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12 thoughts on “Postcard From: The Cup Noodles Museum

    • Laura says:

      It was especially fun to watch our grandson interact with the exhibits, make his cup noodle, etc. but it still would have been fun if we’d been on our own. It’s a very cool museum! There is one exhibit though where Ando puts himself in a group with other inventors, like the Wright Brothers, Edison, Marie Curie, etc. Cup noodles were a great invention, but otherwise, no. Not on the same level.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Laura says:

      I don’t know – I can’t read the ingredients. It is used over there though, though I don’t think as much as it was in the past. Anything made by Ajinomoto is MSG – that’s their main product. We use their CookDo sauces, but only once a month or so, but none of us have a problem with MSG.

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    • Laura says:

      It was a lot of fun – we are all glad we went. YaYu bought two gift boxes of speciality cup noodles for herself – kind of weird flavors, in my opinion, but she says she’s up for it.

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  1. Jennifer Eldredge says:

    Cup Noodles Museum. I want to go! And I am putting together Emergency Kits for our household and hadn’t thought of adding cup noodles for supplies. Thanks for the idea.

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    • Laura says:

      I never thought of cup noodles as emergency rations either! Apparently though they are easy and lightweight to send into a disaster area (like NE Japan after the big earthquake/tsunami in 2011, or Indonesia in 2004) – all that’s needed is boiling water, which emergency teams can set up and victims have something nourishing and filling to eat. Ando received several awards for this.

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  2. Sonja says:

    What a unique experience for everyone! I must remember to not bypass such options when traveling. As tourists we learn to seek out the grand things such as huge monuments but then miss out on other unique and memorable experiences.
    I really liked your detailed descriptions. It was good to know Cup Noodles are useful after disasters and not just for quick eating. I really liked the make your own experience. Thanks for sharing.
    Sonja

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    • Laura says:

      I can’t remember where I read about this museum, but it was over a year ago and I knew we had to go. Our son at first thought we were a bit crazy to want to go, but he and our grandson ended up having a very good time, and got to go to the amusement park. It was a very fun, interesting and interactive museum!

      Using cup noodles after a disaster never occurred to me, but what a great idea. They’re light, easy to transport, and most time water has to be boiled anyway, at least for the first few days. It’s an easy and effective way to provide nourishment, and other ingredients can be added to up the nourishment as well.

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  3. M'Shell says:

    What an interesting museum! I love that they have so many different interactive parts. Now I want a cup of noodles. 🙂

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    • Laura says:

      It was very interactive. The Chicken Ramen Factory looked like a lot of fun – if I ever go again I want to do that!

      I got hungry while we were there! YaYu bought two souvenir packages of cup noodles that include some speciality flavors, including one with green tea! She has noodles every weekend, and once a week in her lunch, so is excited about trying them out, but also wants to make them last. One of the first things we did when we arrived in Japan was take her to the market so she could pick out noodles for her breakfast every morning – her favorites were the curry noodles.

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