Yokohama is a sort of an oceanside suburb neighborhood of the Tokyo area. I remember the first time I ever went there was because a friend of my mom’s wanted to take us to some restaurant out there, and I remember the area generally being nice and relaxing but not particularly remarkable or exciting to visit in general. For anyone in the know (which I was not until my friend dragged me here), though, Yokohama has a jewel of a travel experience in its Cup Noodles Museum, especially for anyone who loves instant ramen.
The first thing I noticed when I walked in to the museum, aside from the gift shop that I saved for last, was a very Steve Jobs Apple Store minimalist modern design. That and a giant cup noodle you can take pictures with.
Not only can you see a room with wall-to-wall displays of every cup ramen package ever made and a museum that tells the story of Momofuku Ando’s Edisonian trial-and-error process to create the perfect instant noodles after living through the hunger of post-World War II Japan, you can make your own ramen noodles at the Chicken Ramen Factory, package your own personalized cup noodle bowl at the My CUPDNOODLES Factory, AND feast upon international noodles galore at the Noodles Bazaar. This museum is a one-of-a-kind experience that makes Yokohama a must for anyone visiting Japan.
My CUPDNOODLES Factory
At the My CUPNOODLES Factory, you start making your own cup noodle by purchasing an empty styrofoam cup for 300 yen, or less than $3 USD.
Next, you’re sent to a little art table with markers where you can deck out your styrofoam cup noodle any way you want.
After your cup is a purtied up, you turn a little crank that pops a perfectly shaped freeze-fried bunch of ramen noodles right into your cup.
The next part was the most fun for me–you pick your own toppings for your own personal instant cup noodles.
Finally, they seal it and shrink wrap it for you.
Then, they give you a clever little plastic bag that inflates around the cup so that your precious personal cup noodle doesn’t get crushed on your travels.
This personalized cup noodles doesn’t last as long as the store bought ones, so we ate it about a month later back stateside to relive our Cup Noodles Museum experience.
Chicken Ramen Factory
Alas, we were not sure which day we could make it out to the museum, as it was one of our “floater” activities in our schedule, so we weren’t able to participate in the Chicken Ramen Factory to make fresh ramen noodles, so next time on this one. I was able to see it through the glass as I waited in line for to make my own cup noodles. It sure looks fun.
To make up for this missed opportunity to make ramen noodles, we were able to enjoy an decadent meal of international noodle dishes at the Noodles Bazaar right in the museum building itself. The ambience of the bar was fashioned after an Asian street market, so it comes complete with little shacks, a motley collection of tables and chairs, and even sound effects of cars and jeepneys zooming by.
Basically, what you do is go around buying little meal tickets for the different noodles from different coin-operated vending machines that you can exchange for bowls of noodles, about 5-10 different kinds from all over the world.
I stayed away from stuff I could get any time in Los Angeles, such as pho and spaghetti, and opted for stuff I couldn’t even pronounce the names for. I did, however, get a obligatory classic chicken noodle served the way it did back in the day.
One fun little plus is you can get an endless refill fountain drink, and one of the fountain options is melon soda, as green as green can be.
It’s pretty easy to find the museum from the local Sakuragicho Station. Just exit on the west side, look for the giant ferris wheel, and head towards that over a pretty bridge walk that crosses a waterway. The Cup Noodles Museum is diagonal across the intersection from the ferris wheel.
Healthier Non-Fried Cup Noodles
On a side note, I saw a documentary about ramen on the Japan Airlines plan ride over the Japan, and apparently they have made a non-fried, healthier cup noodle. We were able to try some out while in Japan, but sadly, it is not available yet in the states.
Next up, more ramen goodness at Ramen Alley in Tokyo Station.