One bowl of passionate noodle created by revolutionaries eaten in Ikeda, the place
where instant ramen was invented. The amazing confidential story behind its development.
At Ippudo Ikeda store in Ikeda-shi, Osaka, there is a soy sauce ramen called “Momofuku Motoaji (original taste)” which you can only have here in all of Japan. Actually, this ramen is deeply connected with Mr. Momofuku Ando, the founder of Nissin Foods and inventor of chicken ramen. It is not just a coincidence that there is a “Cup Noodle Museum Ikeda, Osaka” within walking distance from the Ikeda store. Here you can experience for yourself the trail of passion that went in in developing the chicken ramen.
Today Mr. Kazutaka Fujimoto of Keihanshin L Magazine Co., Ltd. who has been an editor of a long-established Kansai information magazine “Meets Regional” together with Mr. Tomoaki Kumamoto, the owner of Ikeda store will visit “Cup Noodle Museum Ikeda, Osaka” and “Ippudo Ikeda store” and talk about the confidential story behind the development of “Momofuku Motoaji”.
WORDS by KAZUTAKA FUJIMOTO
PHOTOS by SHUNGO TAKEDA
The beginning of a trip going down “noodle road”.
Hokusetsu area located north between Hirano, Osaka and Hanshin. Take the Hankyu Takarazuka line which is its backbone, getting off at Umeda station and it is approximately 20 minutes away. If you see the gentle shape of Satsuki mountain located in the city center, this is Ikeda city, Osaka, the stage of today’s story.
It has attributes of being a bedroom community and a student town typical of Setsu as well as being a famous historical intersection where goods were made. So, in a sense, it is a town of many sides. The 350-meter road connecting the “Cup Noodle Museum Ikeda, Osaka” which is the pride of local people and “Ippudo Ikeda store” located in front of the station is affectionately known as “noodle road” and many foreign tourists with knapsacks and children who come to visit flocking this street with smiles on their faces.
There is one noodle in this noodle road people are crazy about. The name of the noodle is “Momofuku Motoaji”. This is a specialty of Ikeda store, adding the name of Momofuku Ando, the creator of the instant noodle which has conquered the world with over 100 billion sold yearly world-wide to the “Motoaji” of Ippudo for which Ippudo is known by. The four kanji character name has so much meaning to it and the story behind the creation of this menu is just as deep.
A bedroom community, approximately 20 minutes by train from the center of Osaka. This is also the stage of classic Rakugo (traditional art of talking) and it is known as a rakugo town. The “noodle road” which extends as soon as you arrive at the station.
The message that the pioneer of corporate museum wants to send.
Three minutes of paradise. As they used to say about the pop songs in the 50’s, 60’s analogue record era, 3 minutes may be the exquisite time that people feel most comfortable about. Returning from school on Saturday and waiting to eat cup noodle while watching Yoshimoto new comedy is a happy experience that any Osaka born person like myself would have had. Instant noodle has become the talk of the town and has spread far and wide. The “Cup Noodle Museum Ikeda, Osaka” sends messages of joy and importance of invention/discovery while you understand the hardship that they went through in developing the instant noodle and how it has evolved through the years.
In front of the building stands a statue of Mr. Momofuku Ando, the founder of Nissin Foods to greet you.
The word that stares at you as you enter the museum is “Shokusoku Sehei” (the world will be at peace as long as there are plenty of food to go around). On the other side of Nissin Foods’ corporate philosophy which Mr. Momofuku Ando has drawn up is the restored shed where the world’s first instant noodle and chicken ramen was developed. All over the wall where history and transition has been graphically displayed, there are golden words that moves you such as “There are no borders when it comes to taste”, “Shocking products will always sell. Because that itself will open up a route” and “In life there is no such thing as too late”. It is impossible even for a grown up to just walk past. After reliving the experience at the drama theater, you are returned to your childhood at the “My Cup Noodle Factory” where you can customize your own cup noodle, from the design of the cup to the taste. Then you take a time trip through a tunnel housing approximately 800 of the products developed so far and the tour ends.
“The world will be at peace as long as there are plenty of food to go around” is a word which Mr. Ando, who has lived through the food shortage after the war, touted as his belief.
Recreation of the shed where Mr. Ando invented the instant noodle.
At the exhibit area there are many famous quotes by Mr. Ando. Each word gives you power.
A factory where you can draw your own picture on a cup and choose your favorite ingredients to suit your taste. The smiles of the staffs were also memorable.
At the chicken ramen factory on the 2nd floor, you can experience the process of making chicken ramen from wheat.
A dazzling short noodle trip of about 2 hours. Even Mr. Tomoaki Kumamoto, the owner of the Ikeda store who accompanied the coverage, marveled at the composition of the stones saying, “The “Chicken Ramen Factory” where you can experience the whole process in 90 minutes starting from the kneading of the flour has a similar feel to the food education facility “Child Kitchen” which Ippudo is managing in Fukuoka. You can tell the huge influence Mr. Ando, the pioneer had on Chairman Kawahara, the founder of Ippudo. I feel like I understand the whole connection now by joining this coverage.”
Both of them who have left an evergreen legacy at the tip of a consumer society.
Exhibit area where past cup ramens created by Nissin Foods are displayed. Even the first cup noodle by Ippudo.
At the time tunnel, watching the Ippudo cup noodle which was the first Nissin collaboration with a store, it makes you think back to how they have developed their company business, both of them thinking of the era and staying close to society.
It was here in the house of Mr. Momofuku Ando in Ikeda city where chicken ramen was invented in 1958. As a monumental figure to set up necessary requirements of modern food such as “delicious”, “simple”, “cheap”, “safe” and “can be stored for a long time”, he grew up together with the development of TV and supermarkets and promoted the externalization of family kitchens. Cup noodle was first sold in 1971 and the story about it prompting women’s social advancement by releasing women from laborious cooking is very famous. The visual, symbolic of the 70’s is an image, even now, of young people in a street corner holding a cup noodle in one hand and slurping the noodle with a fork. Continuously given roles such as being used as space food, relief supplies during disasters and a trump card during food crisis, cup noodle has played a vital role of a world-wide scale. You can tell from the avant garde new products and TV commercials of late that the carefree corporate style and breakthrough ideas still exist to this day.
On the other hand, Ippudo which has been a breath of fresh air in the Kyushu Tonkotsu (pork bone broth) fraternity having opened shop in 1985 and spreading all over Japan in the 90’s, raised the bar of ramen and kept it there as a national food of Japan, moving it from “boom” to “culture”. There are now over 60 stores overseas touting the goodness of tokotsu soup. That is an unprecedented number in terms of a ramen store. Furthermore, these days, there are many regional stores with good ideas bringing out locality unique to each region doing business side by side with new business styles such as standing style and health-oriented businesses which have already been introduced in “IPPUDO OUTSIDE”.
One passionate bowl created by an encounter of two revolutionaries.
Ippudo Ikeda store. In 2003 it opened as “Menou Momofukutei” and from 2008 it reopened as Ippudo Ikeda store. Since then “Momofuku Motoaji” remains as one of its menu.
As we think about the footsteps that they have both taken, we head to “Ippudo Ikeda store”. We finally arrive to taste “Momofuku Motoaji” which you can only have here at this store. Instant noodle and an actual store, although in different positions, expectations are high of tasting that one bowl created by two noodle roads’ intersecting. The story of the commencement of a collaboration in 2003 was something far beyond what the writer imagined. The rumor has it that the two revolutionaries: Mr. Momofuku Ando and Narumi Kawahara started talking in earnest, banging their knees. At the Ikeda store full of vitality, Mr. Tomoaki Kumamoto also gets excited when talking.
Mr. Tomoaki Kumamoto is a franchise store owner of both Ikeda store and Horie store.
“There is a word representing the challenge spirit of Mr. Kawahara which is “Grab the opportunity to meet the person you adore from the heart”. It’s about mustering up the courage to turn the door knob and inside is a new stage waiting for sure. It was valentine’s day in 2003 when Mr. Kawahara had the opportunity to meet with Chairman Ando. At that one in a million chance meeting, Mr. Kawahara put forward a proposal of a store opening with the concept of “If Chairman Ando opened a ramen store, what kind of store will he make””. How bold is it to put forward a vision of a new business with his name on it, to a self-made man? “Mr. Kawahara sensing Chairman Ando’s demeanor turn sour started talking about food culture and his thoughts toward the young people of the future and said that’s how he won the support to open a store”. That was a moment when the word “confrontation” suited perfectly. There was more tension than you could imagine but the project moved forward leaps and bounds and in November, the same year, it bore fruit as the opening of “Menou Momofukutei”. And, it was “Momofuku Motoaji” which was created as the signature dish of Momofukutei which was to be the predecessor of the current Ikeda store. “It shouldn’t be just a ramen store that is good and proud about its skill”. It was a bowl that took over 7 months in the making taking in the harsh words of Mr. Momofuku Ando towards the trial ramen that was made many times.
Mr. Narumi Kawahara, the founder of Ippudo, offering “Momofuku Motoaji” to Mr. Momofuku Ando. He says that even to this day it was a very important moment in his life.
Still displayed in the waiting room of the Ikeda store, the menu full of memories when “Momofukutei” first opened for business back then. It clearly shows the combination of chicken, pork and Japanese broth, all the ingredients and even the aromatic oil which is to be the secret ingredient. You can clearly see the passion, making everything in-house, disregarding efficiency while receiving opposition from the company. The medium thick hand kneaded noodle and the appearance shows longing and respect towards a chicken ramen. 14 years has passed having gone through numerous refinements to this day, and now naruto (fish paste) is laid in the middle of the bowl and its breeze, so to speak, definitely has been passed on.
Now time to actually taste it. As you dip the chopstick in the soup the smell of chicken oil fills the air and you spontaneously smile. The taste of the refined tonkotsu soup supports the tasty chicken makes you feel that the concept of “New taste yet familiar” at the time of development has now matured. It was a happy taste experience that reminds you of a sight of both Mr. Momofuku Ando and Mr. Narumi Kawahara eating together while chatting away.
“Momofuku Motoaji” with a slight flavor of chicken ramen. There are people who come from other prefectures just to taste this.
At the waiting room of Ikeda store, signboard and menu when it was known as “Momofukutei” are displayed.
Even after the store name changed, “Momofuku Motoaji” continues to be offered as it goes through numerous refinements. At lunch time at in the Ikeda store where 70% of the customers are those returning from the Cup Noodle Museum, the healthy line of movement of the customers coming from the Cup Noodle Museum to the store is created at this noodle road.
The meaning of doing it here and the significance of doing it now. Yet, it is customer friendly. In recent days there are collaborations galore just to create buzz but the proof that it continues to this day and not end transiently is because of the stories like what we have heard so far. Kumamoto-san who says, “I want to improve how we create our soup and make it one that will satisfy modern customer taste”, showing endless ambition and Mr. Shotaro Yamamoto, a staff. The baton of passion is passed on to the next generation with the intent of the two founders.
Cup Noodle Museum Osaka Ikeda
8-25 Masumi-cho, Ikeda-shi Osaka
Business Hours: 9:30 〜 16:00 (Admission until 15:30)
Closed on Tuesdays (Closed on the following day if Tuesday is a holiday), year-end and new-year holidays
Ippudo Ikeda Shop
2-10 Masumi-cho, Ikeda-shi Osaka
Business Hours:Monday through Thursday, Sundays and holidays 11:00～24:00（L.O.23:30）/Friday and Saturday: 11:00～24:30（L.O.24:00）
Closed on year-end and new-year holidays
WORDS by KAZUTAKA FUJIMOTO
Born in Abeno, Osaka in 1980.
While still studying at Osaka University, he started studying under Tsuyoshi Ehiro, the then editor-in-chief of the monthly magazine “Meet Regional” published by Kei-Hanshin Elle Magazine.
Was in charge of the featured pages, fashion pages and advertisements as deputy editor-in-chief for many years. Currently books editorial staff of the Mook.
Is also actively involved in the planning, performance and moderating of various events and has made contributions such as serial articles to Kaji-Kaji magazine “Osaka Jiman”.
Based in Osaka, he is actively working to convey the dynamism of the bustling city of Osaka.