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Noodle chain gets Cool Japan funding

A premium ramen noodle restaurant chain is set for an overseas roll-out sponsored by a Japanese government entrepreneurial fund.

Cool Japan Fund, which currently has 100 billion yen in its kitty with which to sponsor Japanese companies expanding offshore, will invest 2 billion yen (US$16.51 million) in Fukuoka-based Chikaranomoto Holdings which runs 120 Ippudo-branded ramen restaurants in Japan and mainly Asian cities already. The one photographed above is in Bangkok.

Ippudo means one wind hall and was so named because when the company was founded Kyushu’s ramen industry was under a cloud and its CEO Shigemi Kawahara wanted to “blow wind and revolutionise the era”, according to Wikipedia.

Chikaranomoto plans to open its upmarket restaurant concept in London, Sydney, New York, Singapore and Seoul.

“In Japan, people leave the ramen shop as soon as they finish eating,” Nobuo Sugiuchi, co-chief investment officer of Cool Japan Fund, told Reuters.

“But we want to build a ramen shop chain in a different style overseas. A ramen shop should be a place where customers can enjoy sake and side dishes as well as ramen.”

The funding will come in the form of a 700 million yen grant and a 1.3 billion yen loan.

Cool Japan Fund’s other investment ventures include comics, anime ventures, films and fashion.

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