by Scott, staff writer of japan-guide.com
This journal is a log of my travels within Japan. Here you'll find my personal opinions on the places I've been and the things I've seen. Also expect to see the occasional review and editorial. Thanks for reading.
2011/09/22 - New Kanagawa Museums
This morning we all headed down to Kanagawa Prefecture to check out the recently opened Fujiko F. Fujio Museum (aka, the Doraemon Museum) in Kawasaki City, which chronicles the life and work of the creator of the Doraemon manga and anime series; and the Cup Noodles Museum in downtown Yokohama.
Fujiko F. Fujio Museum
Despite a typhoon passing through just hours earlier, we stepped of our train in Shinjuku greeted by clear blue skies and beautiful warm weather. From there we boarded an Odakyu Line train for the short 20 minute train ride to Noborito Station in neighboring Kawasaki City. The museum runs frequent shuttle buses to/from the station (200 yen one way) which are decorated inside and out with characters from the Doraemon series.
Entry to the museum is by reservation only, and tickets are sold at Lawson Convenience Stores' Loppi Ticket machines. Those who have visited the Ghibli Museum will be familiar with the system.
As the museum is kind of small, entry is limited to certain time slots that you can choose when purchasing your tickets. We had the earliest entry time (10am), but they were already letting people in when we arrived at 9:40.
If you are unfamiliar to the series, Doraemon is a robot cat from the 22nd century that has travelled back in time and befriended a group of children. Together they get into zany situations that they solve with the help of Doraemon's futuristic gadgets. Doraemon has been around for the last 40 years, so the museum is designed for both children new to the series and adults who grew up with the characters.
Half of the museum displays exhibitions of Fujiko F. Fujio's work, and includes original artwork from Doraemon and his other series. An English audio guide is included with admission, and had some interesting commentary on the various artwork on display. The other half of the museum is more oriented to small children, with an original short film, manga reading room, and play rooms. While it's not a large museum, it packs a lot of into a small space. Dedicated fans could easily spend a few hours there looking at the artwork and listening to the entire audio guide.
One of the highlights of the museum is its restaurant which offers a variety of character themed dishes. It's pretty clever how their faces are worked into both the food and the dishware.
And of course, the museum has a well stocked gift shop with all kinds of goods featuring the characters from Doraemon and Fujiko F. Fujio's other series.
Cup Noodle Museum
The other new museum that we visited today was the new Cup Noodle Museum that opened up in Yokohama's Minato Mirai district just last week. It is the first cup noodles museum to open in greater Tokyo, although it is the second of its kind in Japan (the original is in Osaka).
This fun museum follows the history of instant noodles from their invention as a fast and cheap post war food, with a lot of quirky exhibits, clever interactive displays, and modern art.
The museum also has popular hands on workshops such as the My Cup Noodles Factory where for a small fee you can design your own cup noodle by combining different toppings into an original creation. On busy days the workshop requires tickets which can be bought at the admission counter.
The museum's other hands on workshop is the Chicken Ramen Factory where groups of visitors can make instant ramen noodles from scratch. The workshop takes 90 minutes and requires advance reservations. Both workshops looked like a lot of fun but unfortunately they were both completely sold out for the day.
Finally, we ended our visit at the kids play place and noodle food court. The kids park treats children like noodles sending them through a play factory to be manufactured and shipped out. It looked like it would be a lot of fun, but there weren't many kids in there.
The Noodles Bazaar food court, however, was my favorite part of the museum. Designed to look like an Asian night market, complete with authentic looking food stalls surrounding a central dining area, the food court was fun way to experience a bunch of noodles from different countries. The atmosphere in the place was also well done, complete with the sounds of hawkers and honks of traffic that fooled more than a few people into looking over their shoulder for oncoming scooters.
There was a good selection of noodle dishes from 8 countries, and the ones I tried were pretty good. They are available in 300 yen half portions that are just perfect for sampling a few of the dishes without overeating or breaking the bank.