Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum

ByMichael Stigall
Jan 24, 2022

Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum

Whether all you only know about ramen is instant, cup-o-noodles, or are a true aficionado who can tell the difference between shoyu and tonkotsu based ramen by smell, perhaps you’ll agree: Ramen is so good, it should be in a museum. Well, you’re in luck — there is a ramen museum!

At the Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum (not a typo; that’s how it is spelled), not only is the steamy, hearty goodness that is ramen soup memorialized and commemorated, but the entire culture that created it is equally celebrated. In the museum’s case, Ramen, or Rau-men is considered to be a Chinese dish. This is why is it is often called  “chuuka soba,” meaning “Chinese noodles.” Like so many things in Japan, it’s a new spin on an old, imported idea to create something essentially Japanese. It consists of Chinese-style wheat noodles served in broth-based meat, fish, or even miso, then often further flavored with soy sauce or miso or even butter, and uses toppings such as sliced pork and dried seaweed, ginger, green onions, and so on.

There are so many varieties that people can argue over the details. There are so many shops that you can find one almost anywhere in Japan, with only the ingredients changing according to the area. For example, Kyushu’s tonkotsu (pork-bone broth), Tohoku’s shio (salt-based broth), Hokkaido’s miso blend base, and even Yokohama’s shoyu (soy sauce) based broth. This is where the Ramen museum shines; 6 famous ramen shops represent the best tastes of their respective region of Japan. In other words, you can skip the plane ticket and go on a gastronomic tour of Japan without leaving the building.

But wait, this is a museum, right? Of course, and that means you’ll get to learn how ramen as we know it came to be in the mid-20th century by actually visiting 1950′s era Japan! Inside the museum’s main halls, they’ve recreated a scene from postwar Japan in the form of a massive two-floor diorama, complete with characters representing the time and shops. As you descend the stairs, you’ll hear calls from the “police officer” walking his beat, making sure all is well. You’ll also see street vendors and performers plying their trades too (don’t miss the guy selling the steamed sweet bread!) Even a 50’s era sweet shop is complete with snacks and other goodies. It’s a fantastic experience, almost as good as the food. 

Remember that we also came to eat, so make sure you pack your appetite. You’ll want to visit more than one shop, as each has its specialty. On my visit, I chose to try the Shoyu-based ramen from Miraku, a shop in Hokkaido and then tasted Okinawa’s best salt-based soup from Tondou. I was doing the equivalent of going from one end of Japan to the other – in only 100 meters. It’s also important to note that every shop inside serves half-bowls of their soups since they know the crowds are there to enjoy tasting the different flavors. However, these are true full-service restaurants; every item on their menu is available, including gyoza dumplings, fried rice, beer, and more.

On the first floor, there’s a museum shop stocked full of things like official ramen bowls, dishes, and the like from all the representative restaurants, trinkets like cell phone straps, t-shirts, and even ramen meal kits that allow you to make bowls of noodle soup in your own kitchen. There’s also a slot car racing set up to occupy kids of all ages.

The museum is easily accessible from JR’s Shin-Yokohama station on the Tokaido Shinkansen, JR Yokohama line, and Yokohama Subway Blue Line. From the station, it’s an easy 10-minute walk to the venue. Admission is only JPY 310 for a one-day ticket. Elementary-age kids up to junior high are 100 yen, and kids younger than six are free. Also, remember to bring money for the shops inside; the average price for a whole bowl was JPY 900, and half-bowls were around JPY 600.

If you’re looking for a good afternoon outing and fancy yourself a “foodie,” then this is the day trip for you. Perhaps you’ll understand why ramen is fast becoming a Japanese dish that can even compete with sushi on the global stage.

Brakeet, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

About the author

Michael Stigall editor

Leave a Reply