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Cool Japan Fund Jumps Into Ramen

The Cool Japan Fund is an investment vehicle supported by the Japanese government and private enterprise. Its mission… to help spread Japanese “coolness” globally.

The idea behind the fund is to help create (and push) the demand for businesses derived from Japanese culture and lifestyle.

The fund recently declared that its next venture is in the ramen shop restaurant business, and has decided to finance famous Japanese noodle shop Ippudo. Funding will be required for the company enter the European market.

The Cool Japan Fund has decided to assist Ippudo because most banks are hesitant to lend to restaurateurs targeting expensive and risky overseas expansions.

The deal is said to be worth ¥1 billion (US$8.28 million), distributed in a series of loans and investments into Chikaranomoto, which runs Ippudo.

The majority of the capital will of course be offered through loans, and any actual investment is expected not to exceed Chikaranomoto’s capital of roughly ¥130 million (US$1 million).

This is not Ippudo’s first international foray. It already has assets in the United States, the United Kingdom, and other regions of Asia (China, Malaysia, Singapore, and Australia to name but a few). But this new expansion is aimed at the heart of Europe, in such locations as Paris and Brussels.

All things considered, the fund hopes it is smooth sailing so it can offer additional backing to the Chikaranomoto Group in the near future.

With any luck, this restaurant chain will grow to become as big as, say, McDonald’s, as many believe Ippudo to be (one of) the best major noodle shops to come out of Japan. The Akamaru (“aka” means red) is pure deliciousness and will put most Western “fast food” to shame. Don’t believe it? Find a location and see for yourself.

H/T: Nikkei