How to Visit Japan’s Cup Noodle Museums and Factories [2019]


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Taking a factory tour while visiting Japan is like a right of passage.  And in the country where instant noodles were invented, there is no better place to combine two bucket list items.   That’s right, take a cup noodle factory visit AND make your own cup noodles, in the “factory”.  There are 3 cup noodle museums that you can actively visit in Japan.  I use the word actively, as the best experiences that you’ll have are the interactive ones.

Noodles, or ramen, which despite originating in China is a huge favourite of the Japanese people, who have very much laid claim to them and made them their own.

There are 3 cup noodle museums that you can visit in Japan.  Each is very different, and we’re going to discuss each one, how to find each cup noodle museum in Japan, what to expect and how to visit Japan’s instant noodle museums.

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Cup Noodles and Instant Ramen – A Short History

While ramen was, as I explained, invented in China, there are instances of noodles all around the world.  Spaghetti in Italy, noodles in china, ramen in Japan. However, it is here in Japan, that the world’s first instant noodles were invented, packaged and sold to the rest of the world.

More than 100 billion portions of instant noodles are eaten each year around the world and it all came from here.   First of all, came the instant noodle and it was here on August 25, 1958, that the world’s first instant noodle was invented. Right here in Ikeda, Japan by Momofuku Ando.

Ando’s idea for instant noodles came in the years following World War II.  At a black market close to Osaka’s main train station he noticed a line of people waiting to eat their turn to eat a bowl of noodles.  In the years after the war, there were severe food shortages, and noodles were both a beloved Japanese foodstuff and also relatively healthy and cheap.   He decided at that time to try and make noodles, or ramen simpler to make, easier to keep and easy to eat.

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how to visit Japans cup noodle museums

He overcame the problem of drying the noodles by flash frying the noodles to eliminate moisture. He took this inspiration from seeing his wife Masako preparing crispy tempura.  The world’s first instant ramen, Chicken Ramen went on sale in August 1958.  Initially, the noodles were permeated with chicken stock and seasoning, the addition of hot water produced a bowl of steaming ramen.  Within 5 years Ando’s Chicken Ramen had reached annual sales of 4.3 billion yen.

The museum of instant noodles opened in 1999 in Ikeda, near Osaka and it’s free to go along to.

The Invention of Cup Noodles

Momofuku Ando went on to “cup” (or pot as we’d call it in the west) noodle industry with the invention of the cup noodle in 1971.

The First Cup Noodle

Momofuku Ando –  The Inventor of Cup Noodles

Momofuku Ando, who lived in Ikeda, invented instant ramen and the cup noodle.  His inventions came about after the credit union that he was head of (he had no financial services experience) went bust.

Ando was the founder of Nissin Foods, he was 48 years old when he invented the instant noodle in 1958.  Ando died in 2007.   Instant noodles are ready to eat dry noodles that are reconstituted by the addition of hot water.    The instant noodle was invented in a shed, a replica of which you can see in the museum in Ikeda.

Initially, Ando started with producing just 400 packets a day, the company now sells more than 5.5 billion portions a year in Japan alone.

Check out our guide of what to do BEFORE you get to Japan – free Japan Travel Check List

Where to Visit a Cup Noodle Factory in Japan

There are 3 cup noodle museums that you can visit in Japan.   Two of the cup noodle museums and factories are hosted by Nissin, the company founded by the original inventor of instant noodles, Momofuku Ando.  There are differences in the facilities of the two Nissin museums – the Ikeda location entrance is free, but there is a fee to enter the Yokohama museum for instance.

  • The Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum, Ikeda, Osaka (Nissin)
  • The Yokohama Cup Noodle Museum (Nissin)
  • Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum

The activities available at each of the instant noodle museums are similar and we’ll touch on these individually.

Human Size Cup Noodles

How to Visit the Cup Noodle Factory Ikeda

This museum, as it is the birthplace of the founded of instant noodles, Momofuku Ando, is also known as the Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum (カップヌードルミュージアム 大阪池田)

Location of the Cup Noodle Museum Ikeda

8-25 Masumi-Cho, Ikeda-shi, Osaka 563-0041, Japan.

How to Get to the Cup Noodle Museum Ikeda

The closest train station to the Ikeda Cup Noodle Factoryis the Ikeda station, which is on the Hankyu Takarazuka Line.  The museum is just 5 minutes walk from the exit labelled  Masumi-Cho Homen.

This line is not covered on the JR Pass. (Read our extensive guide as to how the JR Pass can help you save money in Japan.) Our train ticket cost us 270 Yen each way for our return ticket.  You can check out the latest prices here.

Where to Stay to Visit the Cup Noodle Museum Ikeda

We stayed in Osaka at the Where we stayed in Osaka – the Hotel Keihan Tenmabashi (we liked it and recommend it )and took the short train journey out to Ikeda.

Cup noodle museum Ikeda opening hours

The Momofuku Ando instant noodle museum is open from 0930 – 1600 daily

Cup Noodle Museum Ikeda Entrance fees

Entrance to the Ikeda Instant Noodle Museum is free.  There are additional fees for certain activities at the Momofuku Ando instant noodle museum which we have noted in the appropriate places.

What To do at the Cup Noodle Factory Ikeda

There are a variety of activities at the Momofuku Ando instant noodle museum.  Some of these activities are similar to those available at the cup noodle museum Yokohama, but there are some differences, including cost differences.

 

The Instant Ramen Tunnel at the Cup Noodle Factory

As you enter the museum, an exhibition starts with a time tunnel of instant noodle packaging, starting with the original Chicken Ramen – with a see-through gap so you can see the noodles inside.  There are more than 800 examples of packing here, showing how marketing, diet and eating habits have changed in the more than 50 years since the instant noodle was introduced.  This is free in Ikeda.

Cup Noodle Museum Time Tunnel

Learn about the Inventor of Instant Noodles Momofuku Ando

There’s a history of Momofuku Ando, the inventor of the instant noodle, you’ll find out more about his history and see a replica of the shed in which he invented the noodles in 1958 as well as replicas of the ordinary tools that he used to do this.

You’ll find details of his life story, some of which we’ve covered in this post above.  You’ll also see photographs of his life and achievements as well as personal items of his and awards that he’s won.

This section also includes details on the history of instant noodles in this interactive section.  You’ll get to see an actual vacuum pack of instant noodles that were developed for and carried on the Space Shuttle Discovery.  This is free in Ikeda.

Explore the Birthplace of Instant Noodles

A replica of Momofuku Ando’s work shed is present here – you can step inside it and see the ordinary tools that he used.  The shed has been replicated as it was the morning that he invented the instant noodle.  This is free to enter with museum entry.

Test your knowledge of instant noodles with the Magic Table

There are interactive quizzes here where you can test your understanding of instant ramen with the magic table at the Ikeda cup noodle museum.

Explore Cup Noodles from Around the World

As instant noodles and cup noodles are eaten around the world there’s also a display of noodles from more than 80 different countries.  Noodles take on the characteristics of their country as they travel.  The thicknesses, size and flavours especially are tailored to the needs and tastes of that country.  So just because you find the amazing cheesy curry flavoured noodles here in Japan doesn’t mean that you will find them anywhere else (and yes, I am still very, very upset about that!)

You’ll also be able to see noodles from out of this world – that’s right Nissin instant noodles have been made available to astronauts!

Vacuum Packed Instant Noodles For Space

Make your own Cup Noodles in the My Cup Noodle Factory

This for many – us included – is the main attraction here.  While the entrance to the museum is free, it will cost you 300 yen per person to make your own personalized cup noodles in the “factory here”.    You get to design your unique cup, decide what flavours you want in your own personal cup noodle.  It is truly awesome.   I say that as a 40 something aged kid.  I do believe we were the only group there without children, but this is open to all ages.

No reservations are necessary for this activity.

This factory element is so popular that they’ve opened a second factory on the first floor of the museum, so we line up for a while on the ground floor and then are moved to the first floor.

The staff have handy little English laminated cards to explain to us what’s going on, although no one really seems to know, in either English or Japanese.

So we line up, pay our 300 yen, wash our hands with antibacterial spray and we’re given a virgin cup noodle pot, a table and colouring pens.

Designing your own cup noodle packaging

Then we’re in another line. Now we need to start choosing. And, we need to write on today’s date on the cup. We both fail miserably on this. There’s a format and we get it completely wrong. Your noodles are supposed to be eaten within one month of manufacture (who are we kidding, ours won’t last two days!), but in the end, our assistant just gives up and lets us get on with it. We hand over our cups.

A man with a gun sprays air in. To presumably get stuff out in case I put any nasties in there.

It’s awesome that I get to turn the handle that dumps my noodles into my cup.  And then you get to select your soup flavour.

Selecting Flavours in the Cup Noodle Factory

And you also get to select the ingredients.  The number of options of soup flavour and ingredients adds up to more than 5460 total combinations.  Mind-boggling.  We may have to come back. I opted for pork, egg, spring onions and garlic.

Selecting Ingredients in the My Cup Noodle Factory

Your cup gets a lid, and then plastic wrapped and then the plastic is shrink-wrapped.  And you collect it.  Then you head to the packing tables where you put your cup in a plastic bag, pump air into it to create a protective bag that you tie a string onto.

This is so cool. Now I get to carry my bag of cup noodle all around Osaka so everyone knows where I’ve been.

My Cup Noodle Factory Noodles

The Chicken Ramen Factory at the Nissin  Instant Noodle Museum Ikeda

Inside the chicken Ramen factory, you can get involved in making chicken ramen by hand.  This is an additional paid-for activity, costing 500 yen for adults and 300 yen for children under the age of 13.  Sessions last 90 minutes and there are 48 places per sessions.  Children under the age of 6 are not allowed to participate. You can make reservations on the website (in Japanese only) or you can call the reservations line to make reservations in English on 072-751-0825.

In the Chicken Ramen Factory, you’ll get to knead, spread and steam your noodles, then flash fry it to eliminate the moisture – finally, you’ll get to take your noodles home with you!  Every participant in the Chicken Ramen factory gets to take home a souvenir bandana (and their noodles!)

Stock up in the Cup Noodle Museum Gift Shop and Tasting Room

There are displays through the museum as well as in the gift shop, where you can buy noodles from vending machines and people.  Some of these noodles are only available in Japan and we recommend you stock up!  They’re amazing.

You can sit down and eat your noodles straight away or take them back to your accommodation, or home.

How to Visit the Cup Noodle Factory Yokohama

This cup noodle museum and factory in Yokohama is hosted and run by the Nissin company, originally started by Momofuku Ando in 1958.  While its not the birthplace of instant noodles this is hosted by the company that created instant ramen.

Location of the Cup Noodle Museum Yokohama

2-3-4 Shinko, Naka-Ku, Yokohama 231-0001 Japan

Website: https://www.cupnoodles-museum.jp/en/yokohama/

How to Get to the Cup Noodle Museum Yokohama

The Cup Noodle Museum Yokohama hs an 8-minute walk from both the Minatomirai Station and the Bashamichi Station on the Minatomirai line.  If you are travelling from the JR/Shieichikatetsu Sakuragicho Station it is a 12-minute walk.

Where to Stay to Visit the Cup Noodle Museum Yokohama

We recommend the Associate Hotel – close to the train station, great reviews and just 35 minutes from Haneda airport by bus. Check rates and book here

Cup noodle museum Yokohama opening hours

Open daily from 1000 – 1800

Differing Flavours from Around the World Cup Noodle

Cup Noodle Museum Yokohama Entrance Fees

The admission fee to the cup noodle museum Yokohama is 500 Yen per person.    There are additional charges for some of the various activities within the museum, these are listed below.

Activities at the Yokohama Cup Noodle Museum

The best place to start is the Momofuku Theatre, where animation tells the story of how Momofuku Ando overcame adversity to invent instant ramen, cup noodles and space noodles.  This 14-minute animation.  This is free to enter with your museum entry fee.

 

The Instant Noodle History Cube (free to enter with museum entry fee) contains more than 3,000 packages of instant noodles, starting with Chicken Ramen.  You’ll also see instant ramen products that are currently available.

Original Chikn Ramen Packaging

A replica of Momofuku Ando’s work shed is present here – you can step inside it and see the ordinary tools that he used.  The shed has been replicated as it was the morning that he invented the instant noodle.  This is free to enter with museum entry.  You can further explore the life and times of Momofuku by exploring the panorama of his life and times.

The Cup Noodle Park (open from 1030-1730) is open for children from the age of 3 to elementary school age and costs 300 yen per child, with sessions lasting 25 minutes.   This lets kids see the world from a noodle’s perspective!  A ball pool (representing the seasoning process), a net (to represent the noodle stretching process), a virtual fryer, inverted tunnel, topping area and shipping slide all complete the noodle journey.  I’m just disappointed they don’t do this for big kids too!

The Cup Noodles Coaster is a (behind glass) window display that shows more than 4,000 marbles made to look like a factory of instant noodles.

Inside the Chicken Ramen factory, you can get involved in making chicken ramen by hand.  This is an additional paid-for activity, costing 500 yen for adults and 300 yen for children under the age of 13.  Sessions last 90 minutes and there are 48 places per sessions.  Children under the age of 6 are not allowed to participate. Make reservations for this activity here

In the Chicken Ramen Factory, you’ll get to knead, spread and steam your noodles, then flash fry it to eliminate the moisture- finally, you’ll get to take your noodles home with you!

The My CupNoodle Factory lets you create your own cup, designing the style of it and then selecting soup flavours and ingredients. The cost for this is 300 yen per cup and this experience takes around 45 minutes.    Read about the flavours and ingredients that you can select here,  You can see how this experience works by reading our experiences above at the Ikeda factory.

Packaging your Noodles in the My Cup Noodle Factory

How to Visit the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum

The Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum is probably the most well known instant noodle museum.  The museum includes a huge food court that is designed to look like an outdoor eating area from Japan in 1958, the year of the invention of the instant noodle.

The museum was opened in March 1994 as a food-themed amusement park.  Today it contains 9 small ramen restaurants, where you can order ramen dishes.    It’s a typical Japanese food experience, – picky our restaurant, buy a ticket for that restaurant from a vending machine outside the restaurant and go into the restaurant.

This is a great opportunity to try different flavours from different regions of Japan – there are as many as 30 distinctly different ramen flavours and styles in Japan alone, so coming here is a complete Japanese cultural food experience!  Note that each adult is expected to buy at least one bowl of ramen here, so if you’re looking to try different things come hungry!

Location of the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum

2-14-21 Shinyokohama, Kohoku-Ku, Yokohama-City, 222-0033, Japan

Website: http://www.raumen.co.jp/english/#history

How to Get to the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum

The Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum is located a few minutes walk from exit 8 of the Shinyokohama (Yokohama city subway) station.

Where to Stay to Visit the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum

We recommend the Associate Hotel – close to the train station, great reviews and just 35 minutes from Haneda airport by bus. Check rates and book here

Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum opening hours

Open daily from 1100 until 2200

Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum Entrance fees

An adult ticket for the museum costs 310 Yen, children from the age of 6 to 12 and over 60’s cost 100 Yen.  Children under the age of 6 get in for free.  There are discounts for groups of 15 or more.

Activities at the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum

While the focus around the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum is focused around the food court area, there are a variety of activities that you can undertake here.  There’s a video section where you can learn more about ramen – from the history of ramen in Japan to understanding more about the different cultural aspects of the instant noodle.

The gallery at the Shin-Yokohama explains the history of ramen, from its initial creation to the history of ramen specifically in Japan.  You’ll be able to understand more about the different types of noodles – different thicknesses, toppings and how ramen differs around the world and why.

The museum shop at Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum is where you’ll be able to find every ramen tool you need – from chopsticks to bowls.  You can even make your own ramen at the “My Ramen” booth.

The 1958’s theme continues with the Kateko café and snack shop 0 which provides alcohol and soft drinks as well as the very popular Hokkaido ice-cream.

You’ll definitely want to stock up at Dagashi-ya on the sunset shopping street.  The Dagashi-ya is where Japanese children in the 1950s would gather on their way home fro school.  There are more than 300 old-fashioned sweets and toys available here

Japan’s Other Factories and Museums to Visit

Check out the free Brewery Tour and tasting at the Asahi Brewery

Explore the Toyota Factory Tour

Don’t miss the amazing Mazda Factory Tour

Which cup noodle museum will you visit in Japan?  And what other recommendations do you have for factory and museum visits in Japan?

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About Sarah Carter

Sarah Carter is an avid reader, writer and traveller. She loves hiking, sailing, skiing and exploring the world through food. She left a successful career in IT security and compliance in both the UK and US to travel the world with husband and partner in adventure, Nigel.

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