Spend a little time in Japan and you’ll quickly realize it’s a food obsessed nation. From local specialties to unique twists on pretty much everything edible the country’s love for food is potentially unmatched anywhere else in the globally. Given their serious love for eating it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Japan is potentially the food museum capital of the world too. From to a gallery dedicated to cup noodles to mayonnaise wonderlands here are some of the most interesting food museums in Japan.
Shin Yokohama Ramen Museum, Yokohama
In a country so obsessed with food, ramen – one of the country’s most iconic foods of course gets its own museum. Some call it a museum, some call it a theme park, but in reality the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum is more a mini-city, or more like a fancy ramen only food court.
The museum is built to replicate Shitamachi, the old town of Tokyo during the mid-late 1950s, when ramen was experiencing a surge in mainstream popularity. Throughout the double storey building, nine separate vendors run their own stores so visitors can sample a variety of regional takes on the much-loved dish.
Though the term ‘museum’ may be a little bit of a stretch given that there’s really only a single floor display on the history of ramen, this place is all about eating, eating, eating.
Located in Shin-Yokohama, about a 45-minute trip from Shibuya station, it’s worth a visit if you’re a ramen fanatic, or if you’re just really hungry.
Cup Noodle, Yokohama
This one is also in Yokohama. Yokohama, Tokyo’s forgotten bayside sister city may actually be the unofficial capital of food museums in Japan. The Nissin Cup Noodle Museum takes the ‘museum’ tag a lot more seriously than the aforementioned Ramen Museum.
Located near the popular tourist destination of Sakuragicho, near the scenic Minato Mirai, the monolithic Cup Noodle Museum looks from the outside like a contemporary art museum, and the interior follows that aesthetic.
The museum hosts a mini-cinema, which screens a regular feature on the surprisingly fascinating and heartwarming history of the cup noodle. As well as a cinema, there’s a ramen restaurant, noodle theme art installations and make your own cup noodle laboratory.
A 30-minute trip from Tokyo, head over to the museum and discover a whole new appreciation for this Uni cuisine staple.
MayoTerrace aka Kewpie Mayo Museum, Tokyo
In Japan mayonnaise is ridiculously popular, so popular in fact they have a specific name for people who love mayo: mayola. So mayolas rejoice, there is a museum dedicated to the universally loved dressing!
The museum was created by Kewpie, arguably the most iconic of all the mayos in Japan. The cubby baby logo adorned bottle you’ll quickly notice is ubiquitous in restaurants and supermarket isles nation wide.
Located in Chofu, the tastefully designed MayoTerrace features a huge walk through mayo bottle, a factory and mayo history lesson, a mayo-making kitchen and more adorable Kewpie baby figurines than you can count. Visits to the museum are by bookings, and be warned it is targeted towards children, but hey we’re not going to stop you from acting like a kid in a mayo store.
Shimizu Sushi Museum, Shizuoka
Like the Yokohama ramen museum, some call this a sushi theme park, while others say museum but in reality it’s more of just a restaurant home for several sushi restaurants, but hey we’re not complaining!
Unfortunately all the display information on the history of sushi is in Japanese. Luckily there’s the Shimizu Sushi Yokocho Shop (aka the restaurant section) of the museum where you can learn in the best way possible, by eating.
The sushi wonderland is tucked inside the S-Pulse Dream Plaza, a multi-level shopping center in Shizuoka. Located about 60-90 minutes from Tokyo on a bullet train, the city of Shizuoka is most famous for its proximity to Mt Fuji.
Fake Food Museum, Tokyo and Yokohama
If there’s one thing you learn from reading this is that in Japan the term ‘museum’ is used rather liberally. More of a store than a museum, Ganso Shokuhin Sample-ya is the dons of the fake food game.
Fake food is serious business in Japan. Many restaurants often rely on their meticulously and specifically crafted fake food displays as their main for of advertising, capturing the attention and stomachs of hungry passes by.
Now with three locations: two in Tokyo and one (of course) in Yokohama Ganso Shokuhin Sample-ya take their fake food very seriously, with the mission to “liberate the new possibilities of replica foods from display windows in order to surprise and inspire.”
With everything looking so good, visiting a fake food museum feels like a weird kind of torture really.
Kirin Beer Village, Yokohama
Though not technically a food, beer is so popular in Japan, it could almost be considered its own food group. Kirin, one of the country’s most loved beer companies has its own brewery or what they call ‘village’ in where else but Yokohama.
Strictly a reservation only affair, a beer village experience consists of an informative guided tour where guests learn all about the history of this iconic Japanese brew.
Following the tour is a complimentary beer tasting opportunity, which after the food touring you’ve probably already done in Yokohama is probably the most perfect way to end your food museum experience.