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Compared to ramen, udon has a decidedly low-key image. Ramen is actually a comparative newcomer to the Japanese dining scene, and so it’s generally the more likely candidate for crazy experimentation. Udon, on the other hand, is simpler, and in its most basic form, the thick white flour noodles, floating in a basic salty broth, can seem almost austere by comparison.

At least, that’s the impression eating udon only in train station noodle joints and school cafeterias would leave you with. The truth is, in the several centuries Japan has been eating udon, it’s come up with dozens of different takes on the dish, and later this year, you’ll be able to sample dozens all in the same place, with the opening of two Udon Museums in Tokyo and Osaka.

Actually, these won’t be the first Udon Museums in Japan. That honor goes to the facility in Kyoto, which opened in December of 2012 and is just as classy looking as you’d expect from Japan’s former capital.

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It’s proven popular enough that its operators, the Udon Museum Foundation, have decided to open two more museums in 2014. Osaka gets its first, scheduled to open in the fall, while Tokyoites will have to wait until winter. The conceptual image for the new locations shows a more modern, yet no less sophisticated, interior than in Kyoto.

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Like the original, the main draw of the new museums is their food court, where visitors can sample varieties of udon from dozens of popular restaurants from across Japan.

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If the idea of eating dozens of helpings of udon sounds just as impossible as it does delicious, you’ll be happy to know that the servings are mini-sized, allowing visitors to try several different types, although there’s also nothing wrong with going back for seconds if you luck out and find your ideal udon right off the bat.

Even once you’re completely stuffed, the udon experience doesn’t have to end. The Osaka and Tokyo sites are being billed as “amusement food parks,” and guests will also have a chance at making their own udon noodles.

▼ And, we’re assuming, purchase merchandise bearing the likeness of Udon-kun, the museum’s mascot.

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Aside from vast quantities of noodles, there’s one other thing the Udon Museums aren’t lacking in, and that’s confidence. “Udon is totally better than ramen!” their websites boast, and we can’t wait to put their claim to the test.

Museum information
Osaka Udon Museum / 大阪うどんミュージアム
Address: Osaka-fu, Osaka-shi, Chuo-ku, Nishi Shinsaibashi 2-17-3, 2nd and 3rd floors

Tokyo Udon Museum /東京うどんミュージアム
Address: TBD

Kyoto Udon Museum /京都うどんミュージアム
Address: Kyoto-shi, Higashiyama-ku, Gionmachi, Kitagawa 238-2

Sources: Osaka Udon Museum, Tokyo Udon Museum, Kyoto Udon Museum
Top image: Kyoto Udon Museum
Insert images: Kyoto Udon Museum, Osaka Udon Museum, YouTube
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