Hot on the heels of fresh, hand-made ramen from around the great nation of Japan we come to what the Japanese once voted as the single greatest invention of all-time: Instant Noodles. In Yokohama, you can venture into the Cup Noodles Museum, where a variety of instant noodle-based fun can be had by people of all ages!
History of Cup Noodles
The museum has a few exhibits following the history and development of instant noodles. A lot of the information you can find readily available on the Internet, but the one incredible visual display that really shows you the size and scope of the dish’s impact is the wall of cup noodles. See, the show you all the packaging and varieties that have been introduced since Cup Noodles inception way back in the early 1900s. You can see the scarcity just explode, with limited edition flavors, new varieties and flavors, and special promotional cups. The final wall hosts all of the currently available varieties and flavors, and even though many are duplicates arranged into columns, the scope of what is available from this one company is truly a feast for the eyes.
Make Your Own Cup Noodles
Here is the cheaper of the two experiences, and a really interesting and fun one, at that! First, you purchase yourself a sealed cup from a vending machine. In theory, you could purchase as many as you’d like to customize them, but know that they are 300 yen a piece. Next, you are given instructions on how to decorate your cup: Don’t break the plastic seal on top, don’t go beyond the specified lines in the top and bottom of the cup, and only use the special markers they have at each table to customize the look of your cup. From there, you are guided to a work station filled with markers, a sample cup for inspiration, and directions for what happens after you finish decorating your cup. Some people keep it simple: Color in the words CUP NOODLES on the front, call it a day. Others get more elaborate, customizing the cup to suit their personal tastes, hobbies, or aesthetic. For our cups, the Mrs. decorated it with baseball logos and gear. I decorated mine with roses and a skull with angel wings, a nod to a particularly garish fedora I had back in my misguided youth.
Once you complete your decorations, you go queue up to get your noodles and fixings. You are able to choose one powder type to flavor your broth. They have all of the classic offerings from the Cup Noodles company: basil tomato, curry, classic broth, and seafood. After that, you are able to choose up to four toppings to put into your cup. You can get all sorts of dehydrated goodies, like garlic, chicken, egg, cheese, and onion. After you get all you want, they will seal the noodles for you and vacuum wrap it in some protective plastic. You are given your cup and then comes the fun part: You get to seal your cup in a plastic carrying case. This is no ordinary carrying case my friends, oh no! You place the cup into a plastic sleeve. You then grab a hand-operated air pump and insert it not a small flap on the side of your plastic sleeve. Then, you begin pumping. The bag inflates and hugs your cup in place with air pillowy goodness. You then wrap a string through the string holes peeking out at the top and carry your ramen away as a small airy clutch or, as I discovered, a very bold neck piece.
Overall, there’s a good amount to do here if you don’t mind paying a little extra to plus your experience. It’s interesting to see the history of Cup Noodles and see some ramen-themed amusements, but this definitely isn’t a full-day affair. Maybe a half-day, at most. If you have no interest in noodles or taking advantage of either of the ramen experiences then this really isn’t worth the trip. Keep that in mind as you plan your next ramen-themed getaway to Japan!