If You Only Visit One Weird Museum In 2016, Let It Be This One

Inspiration leads to invention. Tenacity is the breeding ground for inspiration. There can be no invention in the absence of tenacity.

— Momofuku Ando

The city of Osaka, Japan, is a booming metropolis with plenty to offer the wandering tourist. Given enough time in the city, you’ll discover temples, restaurants, and breathtaking castles that all deserve further investigation. Those attractions will have to wait, though. There’s something else you have to do. It makes those other attractions pale in comparison.

The Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum lies just northwest of Osaka and asks for, nay, demands your undivided attention.

Going into a museum based around instant ramen, I expected kitsch. I got myself excited about kitsch. But, I hardly found kitsch. Instead I found wisdom and I reveled in that wisdom.

I found motivation to pursue dormant passions, much like Instant Ramen’s creator, Momofuku Ando, who finally created Instant Ramen at the age of 58. I realized that chasing your dreams requires tireless tenacity when I learned that Momofuku Ando locked himself in a shed in 1958 to perfect his ramen noodles in secret. Hell, I even found inspiration in the way small innovations can change the world — Ando’s driving purpose, after all, was to create an affordable, easy-to-prepare meal for those in need.

For a place with such lofty ideals swirling around inside, the unassuming concrete walls of the museum’s exterior hardly seemed fitting. But inside those drab grey concrete walls, I discovered a whole lot of knowledge and, in the end, a flavor packet’s worth of the kitsch I’d been expecting.

Allow me to give you a visual tour:

Peace will come to the world when all its people have enough to eat.

— Momofuku Ando

As you enter, poke your head into the replica shed that Ando perfected his noodles in, gaze at the recreated wok and tins of Nice Lard. The man had a vision and it is a vision that plays out in front of your eyes during the self guided tour.

When you cast away all your greed and fixation in adversity, you can find unexpected strength.

— Momofuku Ando

Continuing on, you’ll see how the innovation of the Cup Noodles came to be. You’ll learn about the astronauts who demanded a way to eat chicken ramen in space and — to prove that they got their way — you’ll then watch a three-minute video of an astronaut eating ramen in space.

Alongside all the Ramen history, you’ll find a wall holding every Ramen flavor ever created. You will even be invited to taste some of the discontinued or hard to find flavors. Flavors like Curry Cheese or Spicy Fish Balls.

Some of those flavors, I’m excited to say I’ve now tried. Others are better left discontinued — memorialized on the flavor wall like trophies of long ago hunts.

It is never too late to do anything in life.

— Momofuku Ando

Beyond the flavor wall rests the holy grail. At least the holy grail for any stoned undergrad who thought chicken flavor wasn’t innovative enough. For three U.S. dollars, you’ll be ushered into the “make your own cup noodles” bar, where your newfound Momofuku-inspiration can be put to use.

I created Parker’s Tasty Cup and I can confidently say, nothing like it will ever exist. That’s why I couldn’t bring myself to eat it. It was born from a place of uninhabited beauty and raw creative impetus. It stands as a monument to inspiration in unlikely places. Sure, it may just be a mixture of spicy curry flavor, dried shrimp, onions, and fish cakes in the shape of hearts with the word “love” written on them — but as a whole, Parker’s Tasty Cup is an active of creative transcendence that I may never reach again.

Walking the halls of the Instant Ramen Museum, you’ll surely be humbled, as I was. You may feel compelled to buy a copy of the graphic novel version of Momofuku Ando’s story, as I did. It sits by my bedside even now — a constant source of motivation and a reminder of how one person’s small change to a centuries-old dish fed millions of hostel dwellers and college students (and I guess a few astronauts).

It may look like just a comic book written in a language I don’t speak, but — as I now know — covers can be deceiving. True depth is hidden inside.