Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum, Osaka

In a country bubbling over with noodle-slurping ramenistas, a single ramen museum would never do. If you've already investigated Yokohama's famous ramen shrine, it's time to peel back the lid, add hot water and explore Osaka's Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum.

Bright, colorful and interactive, the museum caters to food tourists, ramen devotees and children alike. If you can't speak Japanese, grab an English or Chinese audio guide on your way in, free with a deposit.

It will come in handy when you are poking around the reconstructed shed where Momofuku Ando created the original Chicken Ramen in his Ikeda backyard in 1958. At the Cup Noodle Drama Theater, an entertaining animation will school you on how the clever inventor transformed a humble bowl of soup into a portable meal slurped all around the world.

Once you've wandered through the Instant Ramen Tunnel and soaked up all the instant ramen trivia you possibly can, it's time for the best part of all: creating a custom cup of noodles at the My Cup Noodle Factory.

Slip three hundred yen into the vending machine and receive an empty Styrofoam cup. From there you are invited to decorate it, fill it with noodles, pick a powdered broth and four freeze-dried toppings of your fancy (tiny fish cakes shaped like hearts or little yellow chicks are on the menu), and watch as it is sealed, wrapped in cellophane and squeezed into an inflatable carrying case.

Need more noodle? Learn to stretch, knead, cut and finally taste homemade ramen noodles at a hands-on workshop, held on the second floor five days a week. Plus, there's a tasting room open every day, featuring ramen-stocked vending machines and seating, perfect for those emergency Cup Noodle cravings.

Every day millions of people around the world spend their lunch breaks bowed over the iconic styrofoam cup of noodles, most without a clue as to where it came from. But after a visit to the museum you will be a well of Cup Noodle knowledge, wowing these philistines with your instant-ramen expertise.

Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum

Open 9:30am-4pm (last admission at 3:30pm); closed Tuesdays (unless it's a national holiday)

FREE admission (with charges for some activities - see below)
Tel: 072-752-3484
Web: www.nissin-noodles.com

Homemade Chicken Ramen Hands-On Workshop is open Wednesday-Sunday and national holidays. Open: weekdays: 9:30am, 1:00pm, 2:30pm; Saturdays, Sundays and holidays: 9:30am, 11:00am, 1:00pm, 2:30pm
Adults (junior high and older): 500 yen; Children (must be at least elementary school age): 300 yen
Reservations required - call 072-751-0825.

My Cup Noodle Factory: Open 9:30am-3:45pm

Masumicho 8-25, Ikeda-shi, Osaka 563-0041

Get off at Ikeda Station on the Hankyu Takarazuka Line (about a 20-minute ride from Hankyu Umeda Station via express train). It's a 5-minute walk from the Masumicho Homen Exit.

About the author: Rachel Belle Krampfner is spending a year teaching and eating in Japan after quitting her job as a broadcast journalist and restaurant critic in Seattle.

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