Chowing Down at the Yokohama Cup Noodles Museum

 On a rainy Monday afternoon, I made my way to the Minato Mirai district of Yokohama, heading past the CosmoWorld amusement park - open and functioning despite the weather - to one of those quirky museums that make Japan so awesome.
Cup Noodles are approaching 60 years old now, and it's not much of a surprise that they were created here in Japan.
 After paying your admission, your first stop in the museum is a room with a massive variety of old ramen packages. I have to wonder where these came from. It started in 1958, with this simple plastic bag of Chikin Ramen. Not much has changed, has it?
 Chicken soba (a different kind of noodle from ramen) and a curry-flavored ramen followed quickly...
 Three walls in the museum are covered in packages, showing all (or most) of the varieties of instant ramen released in Japan on two of those walls; the third wall has a selection of international noodles.
 This guy did all the work, and the rest of the second floor has an exhibit related to Momofuku Ando of Nissin Foods.
 Most of this exhibit is in Japanese, though there is an English audio guide. I gather that it's free, though they require a deposit to borrow the audio set.
 Apparently Mr. Ando worked in a tiny shack night and day to perfect his process.
 A mock-up of this "workshop cabin" is included in the museum.
 Lots of Japanese!
 This was fun. Touch one of the photos and a shadow of a related/inspired product will fly from it. The bird below the ramen came from where the woman is standing (an airplane).
 This was pretty popular - just shadows and inspirational quotes.
 The history lesson soon becomes an art and kids' play museum.
 Photo op! I see Babe Ruth!

For first time visitors, the second floor will help people understand the history of cup noodle development and production. But the real fun happens on the third and fourth floors.
 The third floor is devoted to creation. In the photo above, museum visitors are coloring on their custom-made cup noodles. For about $3, you can choose the ingredients in your cup, have it sealed, and then decorate the cup with the provided markers. It's then placed in a special bag that makes it take up a lot of space. You can take the cup home and eat it, or just keep it forever.
 Also for $3 (kids) to $5 (adults) you can participate in a noodle making class. You get to keep the fun yellow sanitary hats and I'm sure you can keep the noodles you make. While the cup noodle making experience can be pretty quick, the noodle making class takes a good bit of time.
 The final exhibit floor of the museum is also split in two. One side has a giant play area for kids. It's designed to resemble the cup noodle manufacturing process. There are some little noodles entering the machine on the left, with another noodle coming out on the right, in the background. It looked pretty fun, and for $3 you can play all you want for 30 minutes.
 The other side of the fourth floor is the restaurant, called Noodle Bazaar. After getting your photo taken in the little vehicle, you can go in and sample a bunch of international noodle products.
The museum uses these as examples of noodles found around the world that Momofuku Ando "encountered" while traveling the world. That would be an awesome job, actually - I'd be happy getting paid to travel the world and eat local foods.

I spent most of my time at the museum in the Bazaar. The dishes are half-sized, and I hadn't eaten all day, so I easily downed two orders of noodles and one order of the custom mini-dish noodles.
 I started with the chickin ramen. This is a small order of the original instant ramen, with your choice of two toppings from a selection of about eight. You can see the noodles as served; I went with pork and egg. It tasted, well, like instant ramen, but I certainly enjoyed it. This small order is 150 yen (~$1.50).
 From there, it was off to Thailand. This is the spiciest ramen they offer. It includes a full prawn and plenty of vegetables, and you can definitely see the red spicy oil in the broth! It packed a punch, but wasn't overwhelming for me. I'm sure most Japanese people avoid this stand. The broth and noodles were great, but overall it wouldn't be something I'd eat regularly.
My final stop was China, for a beef ramen. This is their second-spiciest ramen, and there's some spicy pepper that you can add in to give it more of a kick. You can see my pepper at the back of the bowl. This was good, too, There are less vegetables here, but I could eat this one often.

I saw that they have a few noodle dishes that aren't soup - spaghetti was one of them. I would like to return and try the other noodles sometime. I saw they have a set offer that provides a discount, though I don't know the details. Each regular size bowl (half-size as compared to a regular ramen bowl) is 300 yen. Each country also has a local dessert (300 yen each) and a local drink (200 yen each) - a free-refill drink bar is 200 yen.

There's a gift shop with plenty of cool souvenirs and a little bit of overpriced instant ramen. Prices on the souvenirs are generally reasonable (for Japan), too!

Admission to the museum is 500 yen, but keep in mind that it's not worth visiting unless you pay extra for the experiences and/or food. The Cup Noodles Museum is open 10:00-18:00 (last admission 17:00), closed Tuesdays.

Access is a little bit tricky at first. It's best to arrive at Minatomirai Station on the Minatomirai Line (an extension of the Tokyu Toyoko Line from Tokyo). Follow the signs to Yokohama Cosmoworld (the station has several exits and it's a maze!) and then head toward the Ferris wheel.

You'll cross a bridge as you approach the Ferris wheel; continue following that street to the stop light, and you'll see the museum building on the opposite corner. Refer to the photo at the top of this post.

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