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“Well, at least it wasn’t a death-ray!”

There can be only two explanations for this picture: 1) An experiment gone wrong has reduced these two lovely ladies to the size of a ramen cup, and they’ve agreed despite the tragedy to pose for a pic, or 2) they are at the Cup Ramen Museum in Yokohama, Japan. Let’s assume it’s the latter and take a brief tour of a place that’s as weird as this opening!

Feels like the Smithsonian…only not

The cute kid and the ramen cup kind of ruin the kingly atmosphere

The first thing that struck me as odd is how utterly modern the place is. Entering the red-brick-and-glass building, which wouldn’t be out of place in New York or DC, I was confronted with a huge open lobby of polished wood and immaculate steps leading up to what I assumed to be the museum proper. Only one thing shattered the veneer: A giant, kid-sized Cup Noodle replica. It was only the first of many “whhhaaaaaaaaat?!” moments.

Looks like a fit version of Colonel Sanders, eh?

Venturing into the museum, I see a full-sized statue of Ando Momofuku, the creator of Cup Noodle as we know it. He’s standing with feet planted purposefully, looking for all the world like a serious orator or professor about to hold forth from the tome in his hand…only that’s no tome, that’s a Cup Noodle he’s holding. I shouldn’t laugh, but I do, ’cause that’s a quirky juxtaposition, OK?

The year of my birth, commemorated here

In what I soon realize is trademark red and white, there’s a whole wall (actually, more like a room) devoted to the cup noodle timeline–which packages were made when. It’s as if every package is a work of art, which I suppose isn’t far from the truth. I used to eat a lot of ramen from packages just like these and chuck them without a thought, which makes me feel guilty. Not only because the packages are kind of wonderful, but because I finally learned the true origin of the cup ramen idea.

My eyes hurt until the lights went out

Once I got past the theater’s blinding decor, I have to admit that the Nissin Company/Ando Momofuku documentary was actually kind of compelling. As far as I can remember, Cup Ramen was conceived in the 50s with poor people in mind–one could eat it without much more than heated water and it didn’t cost a whole lot to make or buy. I also heard that Momofuku was at least TRYING to make it healthy, although I think we know how that turned out. Only in moderation, eh, kids?

Preaching the virtues of a healthy(?!), hot meal

Speaking of kids, there’s plenty at the museum for the little tikes to do. I’m guessing this is a cooking class where they can learn about what goes into making cup ramen. That’s probably hilarious for the kiddies, but it would send me running for the hills. Don’t wanna see how the sausage is made, if y’know what I mean.

There’s also…this. I dunno, I’m lost now. Andy Warhol Kiddie Seminar? Naw. Interpretive Dance class with cup ramen partners? Maybe. Anyway, if you ever go, would you mind cluing me in on this?

Choose all the proper ingredients…

Use this nifty wrappy-thingy…

Well, just like this cup o’ ramen, I believe this tour is done! If you do get a chance to go, swing by the giftshop…and pick up some ramen-shaped pencils or something.

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