Woodblocks and Cup Noodle, our last full day

We started the day with weighing our bags. We left Australia with 18kg across our two bags and we have managed to double that with the weight of books and other souvenirs ^_^

As soon as we walked out of the hotel we saw a beautiful Nissan Skyline R35 GTR. Burble burble happy noises… from me, the car sounded great too!

r35 get

Kamigata Ukioye Museum is in the Nanba area of Osaka, not far from the main train station. A 500¥ entrance fee isn’t bad for a private museum with a few floors of woodblock prints.

woodblock museum 3

There was English names on most things and some short descriptions of what was being depicted on some of them.

woodblock museum 1

The tale of the Tanuki called Shibaemon from Sumoto was touching.

woodblock museum tanuki shibaemon

woodblock museum 4

There was a cabinet full of traditional tools for making the prints, with descriptions of where the colours came from and how they were applied.

woodblock museum tools

If I’d known about it earlier we could have taken part in a short demonstration and printed our own items. Something for next trip ^_^

woodblock museum 2

The detail and art is spectacular and I quite enjoyed the museum.

ikeda manhole covers

We are running out of time and obvious things to visit so we headed out to the Cup Noodle Museum in Ikeda.

cup noodle museum

Leading up to the museum there were some cute custom manhole covers.

ikeda manhole cover 1

ikeda manhole cover 2

ikeda manhole cover 3

ikeda manhole covers 4

This dude built an empire with sheer will and tenacity. The world should know his name.

cup noodle momofuku statue

The museum had a general rundown on Momofuku Ando’s life, his creations and his company. It was a pretty cool learning experience and great to have more of an understanding of how ramen, the snack that feeds billions, came to be and exploded around the world.

A great summary from Wikipedia:

With Japan still suffering from a shortage of food in the post-war era, the Ministry of Health tried to encourage people to eat bread made from wheat flour that was supplied by the United States. Ando wondered why bread was recommended instead of noodles, which were more familiar to the Japanese. The Ministry’s response was that noodle companies were too small and unstable to satisfy supply needs, so Ando decided to develop the production of noodles by himself. The experience convinced him that “Peace will come to the world when the people have enough to eat.”

There was a recreation of the house he lived in while developing the first product, “Chikin Ramen”, showing that no specialised equipment was needed. Just a wok, a noodle roller and some bench space, really.

cup noodle museum shack

cup noodle drying rack

This is an example of the instant ramen vending machine that Momofuku designed and first installed in the Nikkei Newspaper HQ in 1971. It even provided the hot water for the noodles!

cup noodle ramen vending machine

They even made noodles for space. “Space Ram”, specially packed using a hot oil drying method that Momofuku had designed in 1958.

cup noodle space ram

They had a big wall showing brands and consumption by region. I thought it made for a good wallpaper shot.

cup noodle consumption by country

This is an important demonstration, showing that the noodles aren’t touching the bottom, and the density of the “noodle cake” is lower the further you go down. The space at the bottom allows water and flavour to sit, so that when the noodles soften they fall into it. Similarly the position of the noodle cake is such that it doesn’t get squished in transit. Science!

cup noodle exposed

After a history of the man, his inventions and drive, we got to make our own custom cup noodle!

First we had to buy our cup. 300¥ was pretty cheap for a custom noodle experience :)

cup noodle vending machine 1

cup noodle vending machine 2

In the next step we got to decorate our cups. They gave us some coloured pens which wouldn’t affect the polystyrene.

cup noodle and pens

There were some spectacular designs on other tables, but I’m not one for artistic things, so I named mine and we carried on. A did some drawing on his.

cup noodle yale’s happy cup

The magic with cup noodle is that they don’t drop the noodles into the cup directly, but they put the cup on the noodles then flip them over. It’s slower, and the noodles don’t cram into the bottom of the cup, causing them to get squished in shipping. At this stage, they cleaned our cup and put it on the noodles, we turned the crank to drop our noodle cake into the cup.

cup noodle into the cup

Next up, we got to select the flavours for our Cup Noodle!

cup noodle yale’s happy noodle

I went with Curry base, corn, scallions, charcoal-roasted chicken and “Hiyoko-chan” fish cakes. Tiny fish cakes in the shape of the cup noodle mascot ^_^

A went with beef, cheese, egg and fish cakes. He didn’t know what flavour they were at the time, and I still haven’t told him ^_^

cup noodle a selections

Next up, sealing the cup. They use a low temperature glue and a foil lid to keep the freshness in, then shrink-wrapped plastic.

The last thing we had to do was make our noodle creation safe for shipping, by putting it in a little bag and inflating it. They warned not to do this for people going on planes, as the increase in pressure can over-inflate the bag and squish the noodles. We’re flying tomorrow so hopefully our under-inflated bags keep them safe.

cup noodles safe and sound

The next area was a retrospective on a recently found notebook by Momofuji’s wife. It showed a little more insight into the couple, who were together from before the start of the business.

Upstairs was a small display about the man himself. Working right until the end on his creation, he was clearly quite the character.

At the start of every year starting in 1964, he would write his New Year’s resolutions in writing brush on plaques, inspiring himself and those around him to greater things every year until his death at 96 in 2007.

cup noodle ando new years resolutions

It’s not often I can’t get far enough back, or enough elevation with my long long arms for a shot, but this was one of them. For reference that bird’s probably four foot tall and we were above it ^_^

cup noodle mascot and sign

The gift shop was pretty cool. I really wanted one of their “eco cups” which you can buy refill noodles for without having to waste the polystyrene.

I’m scared to think what scent a Cup Noodle candle would have, but they’ll sell you one.

cup noodle candle

The ‘cup no noodle’ paper cups were cute.

cup no noodle merch

cup noodle archeology

What else could we do for lunch but find a ramen place? Ippudo Ikeda was just down the street and full of people carrying happy little noodle bags.

ippudo momofuko motoaji

ippudo menu

Momofuku Motoaji (Original taste) ramen, made to honour the father of ramen, Momofuku Ando. Only available in the Ikeda store, that’s some damn good noodles.

ippudo ikeda

The restaurant is a gorgeous place to eat. I’d love to come back here again.

ikeda manhole cover

tannuki from hommachi-dori

Dinner! More ramen.

Ebitorimenzo, A delightful ramen kitchen with everything I love.

ebitorimenzo ramen kitchen

Rich spicy ramen with all the toppings and a beer.

ebitorimenzo spicy ramen

I keep seeing these little street scenes and they’re just so “Japan” to me. A man in a suit, a bike, a restaurant and an apartment. I’m going to miss this place.

japan street scene

#japan #osaka #travel #holiday