SAPPORO – A smartphone app developed by a ramen lover has proven a hit among fellow noodle enthusiasts, providing them with insight into the most popular bowls being slurped across Japan.
Sapporo-based software developer Toru Domon says he also wants to help foreign visitors who come to Japan in the run-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games to find good ramen shops with his app, Mainichi ga Ramen, or Ramen Every Day.
The app serves as a database of ramen shops nationwide, as well as a social network for ramen lovers. Domon, 52, says it “accurately shows the popularity of ramen bowls as they are ranked based on the number of bowls consumed rather than scores given by contributors.”
When users photograph their bowls of ramen and send the pictures with comments and the names of shops via the app, they are automatically sorted by location and time. Users can judge the popularity of ramen bowls based on the number of postings.
The app was released in January 2014 by Clear Inc., a venture business Domon set up after working as a software developer at a technology company in Kanagawa Prefecture.
It has since accumulated data on some 430,000 bowls sent from across the country. Some 13,000 people per month refer to the app, which is available in English and Chinese in addition to Japanese.
Domon founded Clear in his hometown of Sapporo, where about 490 ramen shops operate, in January 2012. In developing the app, he teamed with Yuta Hirobe, a 26-year-old programmer and a graduate of Hokkaido University.
Domon and Hirobe will continue improving the app to take advantage of the 2020 Games, hoping to provide foreign visitors with information on ramen bowls that are popular in local areas around the country.
“We will collect all ramen-related information here and vitalize the ramen industry,” Domon said. “We will provide information on regional ramen varieties local people are going wild about but you cannot find in guidebooks.”