A Must Visit Destination In Japan For Instant Noodles Lovers: The Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum In Ikeda, Osaka
Do you know that the world's first instant noodle product was originated in Osaka, Japan?
No explanation about instant noodles, or instant ramen, is needed, since we are all highly familiar with them. Instant noodles are the perfect solution in all kinds of daily-life situations, providing quick between-meals or late-evening snacks, and overtime or emergency meals. They have already become indispensable in our lives. I believe that we may call instant noodles even "global" food, because they are eaten almost every country throughout the world. In fact, I keep at least five instant noodle packages always in stock in my house. They are indispensable to me. How many times have I been helped out by instant noodles? Who on earth invented this incredible food?
Osaka is big into its food. Okonomiyaki, takoyaki, kushikatsu, Glico….the list goes on and on. I ate it all when i was there, of course, but i was here for instant ramen. You may not have known this, but instant ramen was invented in Ikeda, Osaka. Cup Noodle too. You may have heard of those food items before. After all, 98 billion were sold in 2009 alone and Nissin’s headquarters is here. To mark this momentous location, the Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum was erected. Making instant ramen noodles at home isn't overly exciting, but visit the Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum in Osaka, Japan and making them will take on a whole different experience. Here, you get to become a part of the instant ramen noodle-making process, right from scratch. It's a must visit place in Japan, especially if you are an instant noodles lover!
When I got out of the station, I just walked in the general direction of where the museum was supposed to be.
I knew I was on the right track when I saw this sign a few blocks away. You'll also see a lot of people walking towards the station with their puffed up bags of Make Your Own Cup Noodles.
The outside of the building is large and made of red brick and glass. It’s lovely and official-looking: not exactly what you would expect for a noodle museum!
You know you’re there when you see the statue of Momofuku Ando, the creator of instant ramen and cup noodle. He will be holding in his hand, you guessed it, some instant ramen.
Ando, originally from China, repatriated into Japan after World War II, a time of widespread famine in the country. After seeing the devastating effects of food shortages, he set out to create an economical and easy to prepare meal that would feed the multitudes. He came up with instant ramen, a packaged noodle with various flavor packets to which one only has to add boiling water to cook. Today, instant ramen is world-famous. The Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum in Osaka tells the history of the noodle and allows visitors to make their own cup of noodles.
One of the most eye-catching exhibitions is the graphical display showing the worldwide distribution of instant ramen that’s consumed by more than one hundred billion people every year. The “Instant ramen tunnel” is also fun to see. It exhibits a variety of Japanese instant ramen, starting from the original chicken ramen, to the more modern, colorfully packaged instant ramen.
There were all kinds of ramen, from fairly plain to really fancy. You got to see all the limited edition instant ramen, the instant ramen that tries to rival real ramen, and other types of noodles as well: yakisoba, soba, etc. There was no way for me to examine each and every item, but the wall did its job. I now knew for certain that a lot of instant ramen has existed, but this much? Color me surprised. And hungry.
The display of instant noodle products tends to make people recall past experiences. Near the exit was the display of latest products. Various new products reflecting the times, including an instant noodle product with a reusable cup, appeared. I was impressed by the fact that instant noodles, which became widespread in our daily life to this degree, are moving forward to the future with us.
The exciting My CUPNOODLES Factory gives visitors the opportunity to create their unique variation of instant ramen. Participants buy a Styrofoam cup for 300 yen, decorate it as they like, and turn the crank of the Noodle Shooter machine to fill the cup with dried noodles. Participants choose to add one of four broth flavours, and up to four of twelve toppings including cheese, corn, and kimchi. Staff members then seal and shrink-wrap the cup, and the final step is to package the new treat in an air-cushioned carry bag. (Visitors who will be taking the cup on an airplane are asked not to pump air into the bag as pressure changes while in flight could crush the noodles.)
Look at all that Instant Noodles!
There are 12 toppings to choose from, one of which is a surprise topping that changes from time to time.
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.
Every day millions of people around the world spend their lunch breaks bowed over the iconic styrofoam cup of noodles, most without a clue as to where it came from. But after a visit to the museum you will be a well of Cup Noodle knowledge, wowing these philistines with your instant-ramen expertise.
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!
A freelance Singapore-based travel photographer / photojournalist. I seek the extraordinary, but finds beauty in the everyday. Life is interesting, capture it.
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