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Japan: Yokohama (Cup Noodle Museum)

Ah! The dried noodle block in a polystyrene cup is a poor, starving college student’s heaven! Cheap and easy to cook, cup noodles have enjoyed worldwide popularity since their launch in 1971 by Nissin Foods in Japan, bringing in revenues in excess of $4.8 billion.

To mark the 40th anniversary of Cup Noodles, a grandiose museum simply called The Cup Noodles Museum was opened in the heart of Yokohama’s bustling Mirai district. It contains art exhibits, a comprehensive history of the product, workshops, a food court, a playground, and best of all, the opportunity to design, create and package your very own Cup Noodle, which can be taken home and eaten.

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Located at 2-3-4 Shinko, Naka-ku, Yokohama 231-0001 Japan, the museum is merely a 10 minute walk from either the Minato Mirai Station on the Minato Mirai Line or Sakuragicho Station on the JR Negishi Line. It is the second cup noodles museum to open in Japan; the first is the Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum in northern Osaka which opened in 1999. Momofuku Ando was a Taiwanese-Japanese businessman who founded Nissin Food Products Co., Ltd. and is the famed inventor of instant noodles and Cup Noodles.

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Upon entering the museum, one is a bit surprised by its visual style with its stark white walls, high ceilings and wood-paneled floors. The Cup Noodles Museum is, after all, a bona fide museum, not just some cheap tourist trap. Visitors first are treated to the Instant Noodles History Cube, a stylish and eye-catching display of every package and type of instant noodle since their inception in 1958. Ramen packages are organized by year, and show off the interesting evolution of a not-so-simple product. There are also special displays for instant noodles from foreign countries.

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Visitors can enjoy a short film introducing the history of instant noodles, together with unconventional exhibits such as a replica of the shed where instant noodles were invented. There is also a small collection of modern art pieces on display.

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On the 3rd floor guests with reservations are taken on a behind-the-scenes look at the production of Cup Noodles from scratch, and are then able to make their own package of Cup Noodles. There are 5,460 combinations of instant ramen types and ingredients to choose from.

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Ingredients and toppings

Ingredients and toppings

The Cup Noodles Park can be found on the 4th floor. It is a playground area designed to give kids a unique perspective of the manufacturing process from the perspective of a noodle. The park can be experienced in 30 minute sessions for an additional 300¥ charge.

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Of course, a trip to the museum wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the Noodles Bazaar, a food court made to look like an Asian night market featuring small portions of instant noodles from around the world available for purchase.

Expectedly, there is a gift shop full of all kinds of quirky items. Included among the typical T-shirts and cell phone straps are things like a candle built into an instant ramen cup replica and stationery folders in the shape of Cup Noodle containers.

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There is something to do for everyone in the family and visiting the museum can prove to be rather nostalgic for most.

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