I recall my obsession with cup ramen at a young age. It was a miraculous invention, being able to open a plastic cup with what appears to be plastic noodles and, with some boiling water, transform the contents into miraculous ramen. If you’re a busy student, instant ramen saves countless hours of meal prep and is so ubiquitous it makes us forget that it was invented less than a century ago. Whether you’re a big fan like myself or someone curious about the history of this invention, the cup ramen museum is worth a visit. This museum is located in Osaka, Japan and has attracted tourists from around the world. Best of all, there is no entrance fee for the museum. For ramen-lovers like myself, it was a surreal experience.
The ramen museum stole my heart with its various exhibits that followed the timeline of the creation of ramen in 1958 by Momofuko Ando. He was the inventor of the masterpiece after multiple failed attempts to produce edible ramen in a plastic wrap. I had the opportunity to watch some short films about the first instant noodles and the vision behind its creator. While the film was entirely in Japanese, I could sense the persistence of Mr. Ando in trying countless ingredients, packaging containers, and cooking methods to perfect the first prototype.
Another memorable exhibit was the ramen work shed, where the first instant ramen was born. The workstation was so simple, you might have thought it looked like a grandparent’s kitchen. Some of the ingredients and tools used to prepare the first ramen packets were found at the workstation. Entering the shed felt like I was transported into earlier times where Mr. Ando’s sole focus was bringing his vision of convenient take-to-go ramen was at its genesis.
One of the most unique memories of the ramen museum included a DIY cup ramen to be taken home. The procedures used to manufacture the cup ramen were displayed in front of my eyes with a step-by-step manually operated machine. After the flash-frying process, ramen noodles are dried and compressed. My absolute favorite part of the process was selecting the toppings for my individual flavored cup ramen. Finally, after the eye-opening, interactive process, I was able to decorate my take-home ramen noodles. Sadly, before I could take my creation home, my over-eagerness led me to sample my own ramen at the nearest Seven Eleven.
After visiting the museum in Osaka, I was still hungry and stopped by some nearby shops for fresh ramen. While cup ramen has been a staple in my university diet for many years, fresh ramen still steals my heart the most. At the end of the day, the cup ramen museum was an excellent learning opportunity, but also an entertaining trip that was a highlight of my trip to Japan.