2016 // 12 // 26
Only 5 hours of sleep on Christmas night. No wonder Sofia Coppola made a movie about this country with the word “lost” in the title. I understood that clearly after just our first day. But honestly, in a country like this, I wouldn’t entirely mind. Maybe it’s because I had a basic grasp of the language–enough to get around with basic social interactions. Or probably because of how disciplined they are as a whole, and how safe I felt here.
And on the 26th, the vacation formally begins.
After our grooming rituals, our travel group went down to McDonald’s for breakfast. Strangely, that Makku (what they call it in Japan) had no English menu. That was weird, but okay. Like what I did with the ramen place in Dotonbori, I chose whatever looked like an Egg McMuffin. Turns out, it was bacon and egg. Not bad.
When we were done, we walked out only for the rain to greet us. The area wasn’t covered, so some spots had rain pouring. Good news: I brought an umbrella in my luggage. Bad news: I, a genius, left it in my hotel room. I knew it would rain during our trip, but didn’t know it was that day. I still marched on in my coat, beret, and Doc Martens.
Rainy days dampen the motivation of photographers. But when you’re in Japan, FFS, forget about that. I thought of it as a challenge. Hues change according to weather and time of the day. What is ugly at day is likely beautiful at night. Or what seems meh under the sun stands out in the gloom.
Ikeda-shi during the rain is a graphic designer haven dream come true. Wes Anderson would approve. It had that “little town, it’s a quiet village” vibe. Such a silent place was the least area I’d expect the Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum to be located at.
The Instant Ramen Museum
They have museums for everything nowadays. Instant noodles is no exception.
What makes this museum unique? The man who inspired this curation, Momofuku Ando, created our hot-water-ready fave: instant ramen. Others try to imitate, but Nissin Cup Noodles are the best to date. Timeless, tasteful, and addicting: no wonder some live on it for days. (I do not recommend that, though.)
This man is the Walt Disney of noodles. Not only does he have that statue, but also he has an animal mascot representing his product: the chikin! (Or… chicken.)
The Birth of Chicken Ramen
One of the first things to greet you in the museum is this. It’s the replica of Momofuku Ando’s little workshop where his ideas began. They got down to the tiniest details such as imitating the tools he used in the shed.
The little backstory of this shed is interesting. After the war, food in Japan was pretty short. So the Ministry of Health and the US provided them with bread. Ando wondered why they served them bread instead of, say, noodles─which the Japanese regularly consumed. The response he got? Noodle companies were too small to supply the needs. Then he started working on that since March 5, 1958 until he marketed instant noodles on August 25, 1958. The rest, they say, is history.
Lesson learned: better to start small than not start at all.
The Instant Ramen Tunnel
Since then, instant noodles became a part of our daily lives all over the world. (Even if you don’t eat them don’t tell me you’ve never tasted one. Because. They’re. Tasty.) One area in the museum dedicated an entire wall to the timeline of instant ramen all over the world.
The Magical Tables are beside the table. They contained virtual games testing your knowledge on instant noodles. Do you have what it takes to be the Noodle Google? Then take the test. (Japanese comprehension required.)
Momofuku Ando and The Story of Instant Noodles
No specialty museum exists without a good ole’ history timeline of the creator’s struggles and triumphs. One side of the museum is a timeline on Momofuku Ando’s life and how he created the noodles. They told Ando’s story through pictures, videos, and large ass dioramas.
Cup Noodles Drama Theater
Don’t expect actual actors dressed as Ando or the Chikin, though. Inside is a virtual interactive show where you get to experience how the noodles are created. (Virtually, that is.) The theater is creatively shaped into an instant noodle dome with Chikin resting on the top, looking like she knew our deepest fears.
The Museum Shop
And before you leave, don’t forget to buy some souvenirs! Lots of Chikin-themed merchandise exist here: edible, non-edible, practical, decorative, etc. They’re not that expensive either so bring home some to your friends and family!
I pretty much enjoyed my visit there in the Instant Ramen Museum. If there weren’t a lot of people, I would’ve had my personalized cup noodles for only Y300 at the Chicken Ramen Factory. And it’s one of the facilities in the museum where we have to pay a separate fee (Y300 for students, Y500 for adults). Apparently there’s another one in Tokyo, and I have yet to visit that. Stay tuned for more Japan blogs coming up soon!
The Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum is located at 8-25 Masumi-cho, Ikeda-shi, Osaka 563-0041, Japan. It is open from 9:30 AM – 4:00 PM daily, except for Tuesday. Admission (until 3:30 PM only) is free for high school aged children and younger, while it’s Y500 for adults. Some facilities (like the Chicken Ramen Factory) have separate fees on their own.