Japan's Cupnoodles: A Trip Through Taste And History

Aug 27 2020
Aug 27 2020
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Cupnoodles have been on the supermarket shelves worldwide for a long time now, and everyone has probably tried them once already. Still, two cupnoodles museums located in Yokohama and Osaka offer visitors unique tasting experiences and let them create their own original cupnoodles from scratch.

The Food That Changed The World: Instant Noodles

cupnoodles

When you think about food, which ones are the ones you would rank as the most convenient? It is true that nowadays we can find many different kinds of instant, frozen or ready-made foods at the grocery store, but that was not the case until the end of the 20th century. Food science and technology have greatly improved in recent decades, and the effect of these improvements materialized in the form of all those new convenience foods that we can now find in supermarkets. The first one to rise to popularity here in Japan was without a doubt instant ramen.

As the country that gave birth to the very first instant noodles, Japan has a very long and surprisingly rich history when it comes to this category of convenience foods. In the 1950s, a company known as Nisshin Food Products presented the Japanese market with its first instant noodle product, “Chicken Ramen”, a recipe that is nowadays considered to be the grandfather to all of nowadays' cupnoodles variants. Several food companies started then to contribute to the development of the instant noodle industry, until in the 1970s the first cup ramen was produced in the form we know it nowadays. With the years going by, the offer of cupnoodles has grown dramatically, to the point that today each company owns their original brand and specialty, with these not being limited to ramen, but also expanding to the field of buckwheat noodles (soba), white wheat noodles (udon) and stir-fried noodles (yakisoba). These products are now widely available both in the japanese and in the worldwide markets.

An interesting aspect in the history of cupnoodles is the focus many companies started to put on the quality of their ingredients and the gourmet qualities of their recipes. For instance, instead of the classic dried noodles that made this product popular, it is now possible to choose among a very wide selection of raw, half-raw, and freeze-dried variants. Some brands even started sporting soup recipes that can compete with the ones you could find in a regular ramen restaurant. Anyone new to the cupnoodle world should try one of these high-quality options, as it would certainly make for an amazing experience. World wide, there is always a huge selection constantly being displayed on the shelves of convenience stores, supermarkets, vending machines and department stores, guaranteeing an instant ramen to fit everyone’s tastes!

Fun Activities At The Cupnoodles Museum

Cupnoodles Museum

Japan is quite popular for its food museums, and there is a chance that many visitors might already have visited one. Ramen related ones are especially popular among tourists, as they offer the chance to try out several different ramen recipes and discover one's own favorite ramen style. Still, if you are looking for a unique experience, you should definitely visit the Cupnoodles Museums located in Yokohama and Osaka. They are easy to reach if you are already traveling around Japan, and they make for a great family oriented attraction. There you can participate in a number of workshops and get some delicious treats for yourself. Both museums offer the possibility of enrolling in workshops on a daily basis, where the visitors can create their own custom cupnoodles, just the way they like it. Food lovers curious about the origins of cup ramen will be able to prepare the original Chicken Ramen recipe from scratch! Creating your own ramen at My Cupnoodle Factory only takes 45 minutes and no reservations are necessary. There is no age limit either, so anyone can freely participate in this activity.

Cupnoodle Factory

My other recommendation is the one held at the Chicken Ramen Factory. It requires a reservation, as it takes one hour and a half to complete, and anybody over 6 years of age can join the activity, but it sure is a memorable experience!

Special events are also occasionally scheduled at the museum. If you happen to visit the museum during any of these happenings, make sure to join them, as they are always a great chance to double one's fun. For instance, at the Chicken Ramen Factory workshop around Valentine's day visitors can create heart shaped dried noodles and wrap them up as a present. Have you ever heard of a more unique present for your significant other? The Valentine's day event is taking place from 19th January to 28th February in 2019. Don't miss this chance!

Exploring The Museums: Yokohama or Osaka, Which One Would you Visit?

Cupnoodles Museum

The workshops and activities at the Cupnoodles Museum alone make the museums worth a visit, but that does not mean that these are everything they can offer. Art exhibitions, visual attractions and plenty of games add to the value of visiting these convenience food meccas.

For instance, the Children Cupnoodle Park at the Yokohama museum is a must-go for any fun-loving child, who will be able to experience in first person the trip of a noodle through the whole factory production process in a child-size reproduction. On the other side, adults can explore the history of instant noodles and marvel at the Instant Noodle History Cube and its life size exhibitions. If after all the exploring your stomach starts growling, don't worry, the Noodles Bazaar is there for you to take your time and fill up with taste and new energies. There you will have a chance to try out a wide variety of ramen noodles, snacks and drinks. At the museum in Osaka, visitors will certainly be amazed at the Instant Noodle Tunnel, a massive display of almost 800 different cupnoodles all lined up on a timeline following through the tunnel walls. And after this visual trip through history, the World Instant Noodles exhibition will guide you in worldwide exploration of cupnoodle packs. Just to give you a reference, Nisshin Cupnoodles are sold today in over 80 countries around the world. Being surrounded by so many international looking products you will get the feeling of not being in Japan anymore! Once you find your own country, make sure you take a look at the packs that you have seen as a kid, it will certainly bring back a flow of nostalgic memories.

In both museums visitors can purchase limited edition cupnoodles, including regional specialties only available in particular areas, and a wide array of fancy goods curious items at the museum shops. Some examples are the unique products designed by Ooki Sato, a famous designer and architect, or the Cupnoodle Matryoshka, inspired by the Russian traditional dolls.

Information

These uniquely designed workshop tours will certainly make for a memorable experience!

【Allergy statement】
Menu items may contain or come into contact with WHEAT, EGGS, PEANUTS, TREE NUTS, and MILK. For more information, please contact the Museum.

■Yokohama Cupnoodles Museum

【Opening Hours】10:00~18:00
【Entrance Fee】Adults: 500 yen, Children under 15: Free
【Closing Days】Every Tuesday except for the holiday season, New Year's holidays.
 *Dates and fees may be subject to variations.

【Address】2-3-4 Shinko, Naka-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa
【Tel】+81-45-345-0918

【Access】
From Tokyo to Yokohama : about 1 hour by local train, about 20 minutes by bullet train
 *Shinkansen itineraries are available, too
From JR or Metro Sakuragicho Station: 12 minutes walking
From Minato Mirai Line Minato Mirai Station or Bashamichi Station: 8 minutes walking
From IC Minato Mirai : 5 minutes by car

◼Osaka Ikeda Cupnoodles Museum

【Opening Hours】9:30~16:30
【Entrance Fee】Free
【Closing Days】Every Tuesday except for the holiday season, New Year's holidays.
 *Dates and fees may be subject to variations.

【Address】8-25 Masumicho, Ikeda, Osaka
【Tel】+81-72-752-3484

【Access】
From Tokyo to Osaka: 2 hours by airplane, 2 hour and a half by bullet train, 6 hours by car
 *Shinkansen itineraries are available, too
From Hankyu Takarazuka Line Ikeda Station: 5 minutes walking
From IC Toyonaka or IC Ikeda: 15 minutes by car

Spot
Cupnoodles Museum Osaka

Reference List

https://www.cupnoodles-museum.jp/ja/yokohama/news/
https://www.cupnoodles-museum.jp/en/yokohama/#attractions
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instant_noodle

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