Most visitors to Japan have a list of food and cultural experiences that they wish to have. This generally includes things like visiting temples and eating sushi, and other typical Japanese experiences.
Another common inclusion is eating authentic Japanese ramen.
There are many restaurants all across the country which are ideal for this purpose. However, on some of those busy days full of sightseeing, you may find yourself relying on the aisles of instant noodles found in any convenience store or supermarket.
Luckily, Japan has a huge range of different flavors and types of instant noodles. But even better than just finding the noodles in a supermarket, is visiting an entire museum dedicated to the origins of cup noodles.
Japan has exactly that, with not one, but two different locations in Yokohama and Osaka.
As a result, many people often ask themselves…which is better? The Cup Noodle Museum Osaka vs Yokohama?
We answer this question by giving you detailed information about both cup noodle museums. By the end of this article, you’ll know our personal recommendation and also be able to make your own decision too.
Let’s get started…
Osaka Cup Noodle Museum
The first of these museums is located in Ikeda, Osaka. This location is significant as it is the true home of Cup Noodles.
The founder, Momofuku Ando, worked for years in his back shed in the area of Ikeda, Osaka to create firstly, instant chicken ramen, then the more internationally viable Cup Noodles. And later, he even worked on the first space ramen for astronauts.
What a man.
Momofuku Ando’s Shed Recreated
Upon entering the museum, the first thing you will see (after the gift shop) is a re-creation of the shed used by Momofuku Ando to make the first instant ramen.
This is a great historical representation which leads into the main exhibit telling the story of Momofuku Ando and his journey of invention. The hallway-like exhibit shows the timeline of his work, including the difficulties faced with marketing his products and trademarking his products.
There are a number of interactive parts of this exhibit – doors and turning handles – to see the machines and objects that are part of the instant ramen journey.
Short film and Space Ramen Displays
At the end of the timeline is a short film and examples of the vacuum-packed ‘space ramen’ that was developed in 2005 and carried on the Space Shuttle Discovery. Most of the information in this exhibit is in Japanese, but there are multiple objects, pictures and videos to show the journey.
In the same area, the Magical Tables are also located; a group of interactive quiz tables with a series of short quizzes about instant ramen.
Instant Noodle Tunnel
The Instant Noodle Tunnel is also a popular exhibit, showing the increasing variety of instant noodles over the years.
Starting with the very first instant chicken noodles through to the plethora of instant noodles available today, it documents 800 variations that have been developed over the years. This tunnel takes you through to the My Cup Noodles Factory, one of the most popular attractions of the Cup Noodles Museum.
Create Your Own Cup Noodles!
The My Cup Noodles Factory allows you to design your own Cup Noodles, from the cup design through to the flavor and toppings. There are over 5000 possible flavor combinations and the cup design is only limited by your imagination.
Here you can purchase a cup from the vending machines at the factory entrance, then spend as long as you like drawing your own design on the cup with the provided pens. Once your design is finished, it’s time to add the noodles and flavorings.
At the end of the room is a station where you will pass the cup to the staff to add the noodles, choose a flavoring powder from the four available:
- chilli tomato
*Note: On my visit I went with the original seasoning powder.
Then it is time to choose four toppings. I chose spring onion, shrimp, garlic and chicken fishcake. An odd combination perhaps but that’s the beauty of this attraction – you can choose any combination that takes your fancy. The noodles will then have the lid added and be shrink-wrapped for your convenience.
International Cup Noodle Favors Exhibition
In the My Cup Noodles Factory, there is also an exhibition of a range of international Cup Noodle flavors. Along with a map depicting the consumption of Cup Noodles worldwide.
This is also located next to the Cup Noodles Drama Theater, a small theater shaped like a Cup Noodles cup, showing a range of videos and images from the past of Cup Noodles.
Chicken Ramen Factory
Another popular, interactive exhibit in the Cup Noodles Museum is the Chicken Ramen Factory. It’s really interesting and allows the visitor to be involved in the process of making chicken noodles; from the making of dough through to the flash frying and drying of the noodles.
Please not that this exhibit is only available by reservation according to a previously published schedule. It is possible to make reservations by phone or through the website, up to 3 months in advance.
The chicken ramen making sessions can take up to 90 minutes.
The Tasting Room
The Tasting Room is often a final stop for those visiting the museum. In this room it is possible to purchase a range of different instant noodle products from all across Japan.
Most of these are either new products or only sold in some regions. This allows visitors to taste the differences in instant noodles in different areas of Japan and compare the flavors.
Pricing at Osaka Cup Noodle Museum
- Admission to the Cup Noodles Museum Osaka is free.
- There is a cost of ¥400 for the cup to take part in the My Cup Noodles Factory.
- ¥500 for elementary school age children at the Chicken Ramen Factory,
- ¥800 for junior high school age and up at the Chicken Ramen Factory.
Yokohama Cup Noodle Museum
The Yokohama Cup Noodles Museum was opened after the Osaka Cup Noodles Museum and aims to truly encapsulate the concept of ‘creative thinking’ which was one of Momofuku Ando’s core beliefs. It offers a number of interactive and imaginative exhibits to entertain and inform visitors.
My Cup Noodles Factory, Chicken Ramen Factory and Instant Noodle Tunnel
The Yokohama location includes the exhibits of the Osaka location and more. This includes the crowd favorites of the My Cup Noodles Factory and the Chicken Ramen Factory.
Yokohama’s Cup Noodle Museum also expands upon the Instant Noodle Tunnel of Osaka to create an Instant Noodle Cube; an entire room dedicated to showing the different varieties of instant noodles from various points in history.
Unique to Yokohama: Noodles Bazaar – World Noodles Road
The Cup Noodle Museum in Yokohama also expands on the Osaka Tasting Room by creating the Noodles Bazaar – World Noodles Road; it’s intended to recreate the journey Momofuku Ando went on to experience different types of noodles from different parts of the world before creating his instant chicken ramen.
There are eight different varieties of noodles available in half-size servings (to allow you to try as many as possible!). These include everything from Vietnamese Pho, to Korean Cold Ramen and even Italian Spaghetti.
Marble Coaster and Cup Noodles Park
There is also a Marble Coaster, a window display using marbles and moving machines to show the factory process. This is a popular display for children, as is the Cup Noodles Park – a children’s playground intended to simulate the process of noodle making.
The children start by climbing a ‘noodle net’, to re-create the feeling of noodles being stretched, and make their way through a number of interactive play areas including a ‘seasoning pool’ ball pit and ‘virtual fryer’ interactive floor until they reach the ‘casing slider’ slide.
Creative Thinking Boxes
The Yokohama Cup Noodles Museum is also home to the Creative Thinking Boxes, a series of ‘boxes’ showing modern art that represents the ‘creative thinking’ concept of the museum. They are intended to make the visitor see and think “outside-the-box”.
Pricing at Yokohama Cup Noodle Museum
The My Cup Noodles Factory and Chicken Ramen Factory are priced the same as the Osaka location. However, Yokohama also has an admission fee of ¥500 (making the Yokohama location more expensive).
The Cup Noodles Park playground has 30 minute sessions at ¥400 and the noodles in the Noodles Bazaar – World Noodles Road come to ¥400 for each serving.
- Admission Fee is ¥500 at Yokohama.
- ¥400 for the cup at the Cup Noodles Factory.
- ¥500 for childeren attending elementary school at the Chicken Ramen Factory.
- ¥800 for those attending junior high school and older at the Chicken Ramen Factory.
- ¥400 for noodles at the “Noodles Bazaar – World Noodles Road”
COVID-19 Measures for both Cup Noodle Museums
Due to the rise in coronavirus numbers, there have been some changes to the processes of the Cup Noodles Museum in both Osaka and Yokohama.
- It is required to wear a mask.
- At the entrance staff will supply each person with alcohol spray to wash their hands, check that everyone is wearing a mask and check temperatures.
- The amount of people allowed into the exhibits is limited so there may be waiting times. When waiting in line, there will be marks on the ground to show the necessary distance.
- A number of the interactive exhibits and exhibits that involve touching food have been suspended (Chicken Ramen Factory, Tasting Room etc)
- At the My Cup Noodles Factory, it is required to re-wash your hands with alcohol spray. It is also necessary to pre-purchase a ticket rather than using the vending machine. The ticket is exchanged for a cup by a staff member.
- Audio guides are currently unavailable.
Our Personal Recommendation
When deciding which of the two Cup Noodles Museums to go to there are a number of aspects to consider. Both locations have the most popular attractions – the My Cup Noodles Factory and the Chicken Ramen Factory.
Yokohama Cup Noodle Museum is larger than Osaka’s
One positive for the Yokohama location is that it’s larger, has more exhibits and has expanded on some of the original exhibits. However, a lot of these extra exhibits are aimed at children.
The Osaka location is smaller and quieter, with less crowding. It is easier at the Osaka location to get a time slot for the My Cup Noodles Factory that is close to your entrance time, while at the Yokohama location, it is common to wait, sometimes for hours.
Overall, Yokohama’s Cup Noodle Museum is perhaps the best
The Cup Noodles museum is a great activity to do with kids, and pretty fun for adults too. For families or for those with more time to spare, the Yokohama location is probably best.
But…you might avoid more crowds in Osaka
For those looking to avoid the crowds, the Osaka location might be better, especially if your main focus is participating in the My Cup Noodles Factory or the Chicken Ramen Factory.
Cup Noodles have become a familiar instant meal to people all around the world. So much so that it’s easy to forget how and where they were created.
The Cup Noodles Museums at both Osaka and Yokohama aim to commemorate the humble beginnings of instant ramen, the development of cup noodles and the concept of creative thinking and innovation.
So let’s answer the question – which is the better cup noodles museum to visit between Osaka vs Yokohama?
- As mentioned, we believe that the Yokohama location is perhaps the best to visit if looking for most things to do (and for more exhibits to entertain children).
- But there may be less crowds at Osaka’s Cup Noodle Museum, especially at the My Cup Noodles Factory or the Chicken Ramen Factory.
On your next visit to Japan, it might be worth taking some time away from all the wonderful Japanese restaurant food to make your own cup noodles to take some of that flavor home.