Today, we start the day early and visit a very interesting place for both adults and children. Ever since the invention of instant noodles and cup noodles, it has been a big part of many of our lives; whether its those late nights in the office or just a simple lunch while staying home all weekends. As we visit Japan, the home to the instant noodles, we definitely need to make a visit to the cup noodles museum. The reason why we need to start early is that the museum closes early and it takes quite some time to travel here.
The Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum is a museum dedicated to instant noodles and Cup Noodles, as well as its creator and founder, Momofuku Ando. As you can see in the picture, you can see the statue of the founder right in front of the museum building. Admission is free and the museum is open from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm only. To get here from Shinsaibashi, you can take the Midosuji line ( Red) from Shinsaibashi station to Umeda station. From here, you need to exit and walk to the JR Osaka Station which will take 7 mins. From the Umeda JR station, take the Hankyu Takarazuka Line all the way to Ikeda station. The entire journey takes about 40 mins. From the station, it is a short 8 mins walk to the museum. For the complicated transfer at JR Osaka station, I found a site with very clear instructions here.
After the long journey, there are a few different areas within the museum where you can explore. First up is the history wall where you can discover the story of the invention of instant noodles with exhibits as well as interactive objects. There is also a separate area which displays objects and transcripts that describes Momofuku Ando’s achievements and his words.
There is a cute cup noodle shaped theatre that shows short films of how the noodles are invented as well as the current production and manufacturing process.
One extremely impressive display area is the tunnel of instant noodles on display from all over the world by Nissin. There are approximately 800 products from the first chicken ramen manufactured to different packagings throughout the world as well as new innovative flavours introduced from then till now. One interesting fact you can learn here is that about 100 billion servings of instant noodles are consumed every year around the world.
You can sign up for a session to learn how to create the famous chicken ramen from kneading, spreading, and steaming the wheat flour and then drying it with the flash-frying method. You will then be able to bring home the freshly made noodles home. However, this is only open to bookings for a group of 20 – 48 people and cost ¥500 for anyone above the age of 6 years old. The session itself will last 90 mins.
For those who are travelling in small groups, fret not as there is still one activity you can take part to bring home your own customised cup noodle. This activity is open to everyone and is extremely popular. You can start by purchasing a cup for ¥300 and head over to the many tables here and start your creativity.
There are many colour markers here so you can start to design and draw on your cup which is blank when you first bought it. Once you are done with the drawing, you can bring it to the counter to select your ingredients. This will include the toppings to include, the flavour of the soup you want your cup noodles. There are 4 varieties of soup (Original, Curry, Seafood and Chilli Tomato) flavours and 12 ingredients to choose for toppings. (Fish cake, garlic chips, green bean, cheese, crab flavour fish cake, corn, kimchi, shrimp, roast pork, egg, long green bean and mini wonton) The flavours and toppings change over the years depending on the popularity of customers. One the everything is chosen, the cup noodle is sealed, shrink-wrapped and put into an air bubble package where you can safely bring home.
The last spot before you leave the place is to visit the museum shop which has all kinds of Nissin and instant noodles related merchandise. Most of the items here are not sold elsewhere so do buy it if you set your eyes on an item. You can buy stationeries, noodles as well as other cute memorabilia here. For hungry visitors, you can visit the cafe where you can buy up to 30 kinds of different cup noodles from the vending machines here. Some of these flavours are unique and exclusive to different parts of Japan so this could be the chance to try those unique flavours you might never get to buy elsewhere.
You can have lunch in the surrounding areas before heading to the next point which is the Osaka castle.
From the Nissin Museum, you can walk back to the Ikeda station and take the Hankyu Takarazuka Line back to the Umeda station to change back to the subway. Take the Tanimachi line from Higashi Umeda station to Temmabashi station. From the station, you can walk about 18 mins through the park to the castle. The whole journey will take another hour.
The Osaka castle is one of Japan’s most famous landmarks and it played a major role in the unification of Japan during the sixteenth century of the Azuchi-Momoyama period. The castle is built on a platform and surrounded by a moat. The central castle building is five stories on the outside and eight stories on the inside. There are 13 structures within the Osaka castle grounds that have been designated as important cultural assets by the Japanese government. These include Ote-mon Gate, Sakura-mon Gate, Ichiban-yagura Turret, Inui-yagura Turret, Rokuban-yagura Turret, Sengan Turret, Tamon Turret, Kinmeisui Well, Kinzo Storehouse, Enshogura Gunpowder Magazine, Three sections of castle wall all located around Otemon Gate. ( Most of the information is from Wikipedia)
You can enter the museum with an entrance fee of ¥600 and you will get to see the display of many historic items like Samurai warrior amour and small figurines showing scenes of war.
At the top of the castle, you can go out onto the observatory deck and see the entire Osaka Park and surrounding areas.
For those who are not so into history can also choose to just hang out at the surrounding area of the castle where you can find many photography spots and opportunities as the government has put up many signs and boards for tourist. There are also many small shops selling various snacks and hot food as well as souvenirs.
Trying something different, we can get onto a mini aqua cruise boat from Osaka castle which will bring us back to the Dotonburi Canal. The cruise is one-way 50-minute cruise which shows the unique scenery of Osaka, Japan’s Water Capital. You will cruise on the Okawa River near verdant Osaka Castle Park through the city’s ancient waterways, Higashiyokobori River and its massive floodgate, and end off at Dotombori River with the infamous Osaka landscape stretching out on either shore
If the day is still early, you can take this time to shop around the Shinsaibashi shopping street where you will find hundreds of shops selling fashion items to souvenirs to snacks to beauty drug stores and almost anything you need to get from Japan.
I would recommend heading to Dotonburi again for dinner as you can get a chance to try cooking your own Okonomiyaki or digging into the multiple snacks like Takoyaki Octopus balls and Taiyaki which is a fish-shaped pancake with red bean fillings.
Rest for the night and get ready for either an action-packed a 3rd day or step back in history for an interesting experience. Look for my 3rd post for the final day of adventure in Osaka.