One of Osaka’s many claims to fame is that it was, in 1958, the birthplace of instant ramen. Invented by Momofuku Ando to help provide a steady supply of food to the Japanese population post-WWII, instant ramen — and then, in the 1970s, cup noodles — quickly became popular, both in Japan and around the world. These days, instant ramen is familiar to almost everyone, and although there’s many more varieties and brands now, it all began with Momofuku Ando’s original invention.
To celebrate this, Nissin, the company founded by Momofuku Ando, opened the Cup Noodle Museum in Ikeda, Osaka in 1999. It exists to educate people on the history of instant noodles as well as the life of their creator, and even give people a chance at making some instant noodles of their own!
The main draw at the museum is definitely the opportunity to design and create your own personal cup noodles. You can decorate the cup, choose the flavour of your noodles and select your toppings. They provide reference sheets of Hiyoko-chan, their baby chicken mascot, for people to copy onto their cups, but (painfully aware of my own lack of artistic talent) I opted to produce a patterned cup instead. This took a lot longer than I expected, and the staff came to check on me several times!
Once you’ve finished illustrating your cup, you head to the production line, where you can choose your noodle’s base flavour and toppings. With four noodle flavours and twelve toppings, there are 5,460 possible combinations! I opted for curry as my base flavour, with green beans, pork, garlic and Hiyoko-chan shaped fish cakes as my toppings. After that, they shrink wrap the cup, and then end result is a cup noodle that is indistinguishable from the real thing — except for your stylish illustrations on the outside.
There are a lot of other interesting things to look at in the museum as well, including exhibits from the history of instant ramen, starting with the shed Momofuku Ando first created instant ramen in and finishing with the instant ramen Nissin made in 2005 for Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi to eat in space. There’s also an instant ramen timeline, showing when each Nissin product debuted and when it added new flavours and variations to each line. These two are my favourite:
A mysterious little dead-end amongst a huge number of long-lasting successful products. What happened? What were they? They are definitely solid proof that even a giant company like Nissin can occasionally make major missteps. It took me a long time to find out about them, and there’s certainly no room to go into it right now, so I’ll write a longer piece about it next time — please look forward to it!
Overall, the Cup Noodle Museum is a very enjoyable place to spend a morning or afternoon. There’s a fair amount of English signage, and most of the staff speak some English too. The one exception is the small movie theatre which shows a short cartoon about Ando trying to solve some of the problems involved in making cup ramen, but while it’s cute, it’s certainly not an essential part of the experience. Also of note, I visited during a time when Covid limitations were active so there are several additional things, including a workshop to make your own ramen noodles from scratch, that I didn’t get to try. I’ll return and update this post when I can, but the most important part of the museum — the Cup Noodle design — I did get to fully experience.
Nearby There are a lot of interesting things around Ikeda, including Kyuanji temple, the Satsukiyama zoo, and the Itsuo Musuem, former home of the founder of the Hankyu Railway and Takarazuka Revue.
Details Website: https://www.cupnoodles-museum.jp/en/ Open: 9:30am – 4:30pm, every day except Tuesday Price: Adults ¥500*, high school and elementary school age students free. ¥500 to design Cup Noodles *When I went, the adult ticket price included one ticket to design Cup Noodles, but this isn’t noted one way or the other on the website Address: 8-25 Masumicho, Ikeda, Osaka 563-0041 Japan 〒563-0041 大阪府池田市満寿美町8-25 Access: Six minutes walk from Ikeda station. If you walk down the Main Street, you can see the manhole covers decorated with seasonal pictures of Hiyoko-chan!