Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum is an essential stop for all lovers of ramen noodles. Here you will not only learn about the history of ramen, but you will also be able to taste and eat several different varieties of noodle soup. The museum was founded in 1994 as a noodle-themed amusement park where visitors can sample different styles of ramen from across Japan.
In the basement of the museum is a recreation of a Tokyo shitamachi or “downtown” district in the year 1958, which is the year instant ramen was invented. Here there are several ramen shops where you can slurp down noodles from Yamagata, Sapporo, Kyushu, Okinawa, and even Canada! For visitors with special dietary requirements gluten-free, vegetarian, and pork-free ramen are all available.
The 1st floor of the museum has a gallery where you can learn about the history of ramen from the Muromachi period when Chinese-style noodles were first eaten in Japan. The key era in the development of ramen was the Meiji period (1868 to 1912) when Japan’s ports opened to the world, and Chinese restaurants began to open up in Japan’s major port towns such as Yokohama and Kobe. As Chinese noodles grew in popularity, the recipe also changed to suit Japanese tastes until distinctly Japanese-style ramen noodles and soups were developed. Today there are many regional varieties of ramen with differing ingredients and as Japanese style ramen becomes popular overseas new international varieties are also being developed.
Of course you can’t really understand the popularity of ramen unless you taste it! The 1st and 2nd basement levels (B1 and B2) contain a recreated Showa era townscape which you can explore but all the ramen shops are on the B2 level. Here you can buy tickets from vending machines to exchange for steaming hot bowls of delicious wheat noodles. Because you will probably want to try and compare several varieties there are small ramen servings available so you don’t get too full too quickly.
After eating you can wander the recreated alleyways of the B1 and B2 levels and travel back in time to Showa era Tokyo. Here you will find an old-fashioned sweet shop, a fortune-telling spot, and a kissa style café and snack bar with karaoke.
Back on the 1st floor there is a souvenir shop where you can buy souvenir ramen that you can enjoy at home. Ramen noodle making workshops are also available on the 1st floor.
Opening Hours: 11.00 – 22.00 (the ramen shops may close earlier)
Closed: December 31st & January 1st
Adults: 380 yen
Seniors: 100 yen
Children (aged 6-12): 100 yen
Children (under age 6): FREE
Article and original photos by Michael Lambe. All rights reserved.