On our second to the last full day in Japan, we took a side trip to the port city of Yokohama. Taking the bullet train from Osaka, we arrived at Shin-Yokohama station and proceeded further to Sakuragicho station via the local JR train. Over the past few days, I’ve noticed the weather tapering off, from the cold, rainy and freezing days and nights of Kyoto, to the moderate weather of Osaka, Yokohama was sunny and alive. Gone were our thick jackets and layered clothes, replaced by simple shirts, jeans, and not so thick socks anymore. The sun was out, the skies were clear, and the flowers were all blooming like there’s no tomorrow.
Over the past few days I had grown accustomed to the sprawling skyscrapers, small streets…the urban jungle. When we got off at Yokohama station, so far the biggest or at least the most sprawling one I’ve seen yet, there was a stark difference to what I had seen and experienced in Osaka and Kyoto.
For one, the city was bathed in glorious sunlight, there were large open grounds, and the waterfront was teeming with activity. We dined al fresco and enjoyed the fresh spring air, nothing could have said spring like this city. As we walked the streets of Yokohama, we enjoyed the flowers all blooming, the sakura were no longer the star of the greenery, there were tulips and other flowers that popped up and we couldn’t pass up the chance to snap up pictures of these beautiful things.
More than the oohs and aahs of the flowers, there was one museum that I wanted to visit and I made it a point that if we are going to spend a day in Yokohama, we would spend at least a few hours in the Cup Noodles Museum. Yes you read it right, the Cup Noodles Museum and it actually exists and it glorifies those cup noodles you’ve snacked or lunched on at one point in your life. This sprawling museum was a mix of an Apple Store and a Uniqlo store all at the same time. The modern architecture with its clean lines, polished wood, mix of steel and glass, and the white and red combination were not coherent with my perception of what a noodle museum would look like.
Our education began in the glass exhibit hall time lining the development of instant noodles, from its humble beginnings back in the early 1960s, with the invention of chicken ramen, to its gradual development and the eventual additions of other flavors of noodles. It was quite an interesting exhibit, made even more so, with one part of the display devoted to all the different instant noodles presently produced around the world. Yes, I spotted our very own pancit canton and our versions of cup noodles. From there, we moved on to an audio-visual presentation, where we were each given a headset to listen in on the story of Momofuku Ando and how he created the noodles we know and love today. The presentation was certainly interesting, quite educational, and very kid-friendly.
After the brief history of cup noodles and Momofuku Ando, the museum switches from a history museum to a modern art one, with quirky drawings that still detail the history of noodles, while putting in some inspirational messages from the founder himself on: creation and innovation. There were also a lot of interactive displays and a small trick art showcase thrown in for good measure. However, I noticed not a lot of people breeze past the exhibit and move up to third floor, where apparently, all the action was happening.
On the third floor, visitors who paid an extra ¥300 were given the chance to design their own cup noodles, they were given cups to draw designs on it, decide on the flavor and toppings of their noodles, and have it sealed inside a cute air-pumped bag. We decided not to avail of this option, the lines to it were just long and we wanted to enjoy a good snack, and on the third floors that’s exactly where we found our snack.
The fourth floor had three very interesting things: a noodle playground for kids, a noodle bazaar for the hungry people, and lastly, a wonderful view of Yokohama harbor. Inside the noodle harbor, we were treated to various noodles from all over the world, they were housed in stalls representing their regional counterparts and from afar I could already see and smell the pho, or the tom yum, laksa, and pasta as people slurped and wolfed down bowls of noodles.
With our experience in the museum complete, we bade Momofuku Ando and his inspirational messages to continue our exploration of Yokohama. The museum was undoubtedly a fun experience, it had its unusual quirks that made it unique and fun. If I had one regret, it was not making my own cup noodles. It might not sound like the most practical souvenir, but the idea of making your own cup noodle would have made quite an interesting story.
!!! Cup Noodles Museum or the Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum
2-3-4 Shiko, Naka-ku, Yokohama
Contact number: 045-345-0918
Museum hours: 10:00am to 6pm
Admission: ¥500 and ¥300 if availing the build your own cup noodles