Saturday, December 14, 2013

Yokohama/Tokyo Dec 2013: Part 1 - Cup Noodles Museum

I went to the Kanto area to visit a friend and we went to a few places, but mainly hung out and chilled. And it was good. I actually wrote a few blog entries, so they'll be posted over the next few days. Some Instagrams along with a few words. Sometimes a lot. It really was a good trip mostly because of the lovely company. And Yumi, if you're reading this, you really need to come to Nagoya. I'll start planning random things we can do. 

And so here we go

If you are ever in Yokohama, drop by the Cup Noodles Museum in Minato Mirai. 

After meeting up with Yumi at Shin-Yokohama, it was off to the Cup Noodles Museum. We found it easily enough thanks to a map taped up on the front of the police box (I guess it's an FAQ). From the outside, it's a rather bland building, but the museum itself is pretty impressive. It focused on Ando Momofuku's creative process and instant ramen as a theme rather than a subject. 

I was surprised at the presentation throughout the museum. This museum was focused on the experience rather than the contents of the museum itself. Impressive. 

The first thing you see is the history of instant noodles depicted by an instant noodle timeline. Since I grew up with Japanese TV, I knew a lot of the ones from the 80s and 90s. I was also happy but not so surprised to see there was a Fist of the North Star version of Ra-Oh. That's just plain cool. They also had packaging from Cup Noodles from around the world. 

Then there is a short film on how Ando Momofuku invented instant ramen and continued to be a leading figure in the instant noodle world. The film was set up as a series of mini-TV shows and most likely there to serve the shortest of attention spans. Having a rather short attention span, I rather enjoyed it, though the best point was when a small child of about two ran up to the screen and his mother dragged him back to his seat. 

From there, the museum had different representations of the lessons Ando Momofuku learned such as looking at things from different angles and sharing ideas to create a forest of trees supporting each other rather than keeping a single idea tree to himself. This was probably where I was most impressed with the museum's presentation. They used a lot of technology and artistic representations of the concepts to keep it interesting. Granted it was probably lost on most of the kids there, I appreciate and respect the effort. 

On the fourth floor there was a World Bazaar where you can order small portions of noodle dishes from around the world. Each dish was a half-serving for 300 yen with a drink bar for 200 yen. We had the lagman from Khazakhstan and the tom yang kun noodles from Thailand. The guy at the Thai booth was nice enough to give us both extra cilantro. They were both pretty good and the atmosphere was great considering we were inside a museum. 

Next door there was also a huge play area for kids that looked like a Cup Noodles factory. Not built for big kids, so we had to give it a pass. Besides, it was time for us to make our own Cup Noodles.

Possibly the biggest highlight is designing and packing your own Cup Noodles. First, you purchase a container from a vending machine, then you decorate it however you wish. After that you wait in line until one of the museum people fill the container with noodles and your choice of flavoring and four toppings. Then it's packaged up and you put it in a plastic blow-up bag with not only shows off your artwork, but protects the cup from any scratches and keeps it upright (for the most part). 

The store also had a bunch of awesome little things that were quite tempting, but I restrained myself and settled with just Cup Noodle memo sheets. (I might Vine those later...)

Next stop: Chinatown!

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