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- Conveyor belt sushi restaurants have been an affordable option across Japan for decades.
- Videos showing younger customers tampering with food and utensils have become increasingly popular in recent weeks.
- At least one company that owns a chain of the restaurants has filed a damages claim with police over one video.
A disturbing new social media trend in Japan has some conveyor belt sushi restaurants calling police and reassuring customers about their health standards.
Dozens of posts showing the trend are posted with the hashtag “#寿司テロ”, or “sushi terror.”
The prank videos, often perpetrated by younger culprits, show customers at any one of Japan’s many conveyor belt sushi restaurants taking things off the belt like utensils, soy sauce bottles, or food. The pranksters then lick or touch the item, or douse it in spicy wasabi, before returning it to the belt for another customer to take.
Some videos involve customers removing one piece of sushi from a plate that has a few pieces on it without taking the entire plate off the conveyor belt, meaning they won’t be paying for it.
Akindo Sushiro Co., the operator of one sushi chain, filed a police report over a video viewed tens of millions of times since it was posted this week, according to the Kyodo News.
It shows a customer at one location licking a soy sauce bottle and a cup before returning the cup to the shelf. He later licks a finger then at least one plate of sushi on the conveyor belt.
—滝沢ガレソ🪚 (@takigare3) January 29, 2023
The person in the video apologized after it gained significant attention, but the chain said it intends to “continue to respond strictly in both a civil and criminal capacity,” the Kyodo News reported.
The videos have prompted sushi restaurants to remind customers that they frequently clean and disinfect utensils, and will provide clean utensils upon request. Sushiro claimed that its reputation is damaged, and the Washington Post reported that the company’s stock fell about 5 percent in the days after the video went viral.
“Kaiten-zushi,” or conveyor belt sushi, restaurants have been a mainstay in Japan for decades as an affordable option. Customers sit at a table next to the belt where popular items or specific orders rotate from the kitchen through the restaurant until they are picked up.
Some restaurants have a fixed price for everything on the menu, and some locations determine the bill by tying the type of plate a dish is on with a specific price. Many also have systems in place like touch screens to allow customers to place special orders.