Sushi - © Mukbang

Sushi Stupidity Sweeps Japan: Why Would People Do This?

Sushi is one of those things folks either love or hate. If you’re a hater, a troubling new trend industry watchers are calling ‘Sushi Terrorism’ won’t concern you. But lovers are exploding with disgust and consternation as videos depicting deliberate contamination of sushi in restaurants are blossoming on social media…

Conveyor belt sushi - © indyweek.comA typical conveyor-belt sushi service line: Cleanliness is
next to godiness. The system has traditionally relied
mutual trust between vendors and customers…

Bordering on food porn

Consider the following nauseating examples from the growing online catalogue of videos alleging to show unsanitary pranks perpetrated by folks who are obviously sushi haters, reported recently by NBC News:

Many stupid stunts in Japanese conveyor-belt sushi restaurants are being perpetrated by punk kids, “touching conveyor food in unsanitary ways, then placing the item back on the belt.”

One viral video showed a teen wiping saliva on a plate of sushi, licking the rim of a cup, and placing them back on the shelf.

In another, a diner literally sprayed hand sanitizer on food as it passed by.

One especially troubling vid reportedly showed a ‘terrorist’ drinking directly from a communal bottle of soy sauce.

The last straw

Police were alerted to the abominable transgression in that last case, and two men, aged 19 and 21, were arrested, along with a 15-year-old girl.

The location was a Kura eatery, a member of a well-known chain in the central city of Nagoya, police confirmed.

Kura said, in a statement, that it would do everything it could to protect conveyor belt sushi, which has been a beloved tradition in Japanese dine-out culture for decades.

“We sincerely hope that this arrest will serve as a catalyst for widespread public recognition of the ‘crime’ […] that shakes the very foundations of the system based on the relationship of trust with our customers, and we truly hope that there will be no more copycat crimes,” the statement declared.

Some players just backing away

But there are other ways to ensure desecrations of sushi bars will cease to be an issue.

Another major resto chain, Choshimaru, which operates multiple outlets in and around Tokyo, has announced it will phase out its conveyor belt system by the end of April. The chain will replace its current trust-based system with a touch-screen ordering and payment regime.

Others will simply ditch conveyor bets all together and go with the system we’re familiar with in the rest of the world: Asking glove-wearing attendants to serve items onto our plates using tongs from behind plastic sneeze guards. Hardly as aesthetically pleasing as conveyor belts, but what else can you do?

The ‘kaitenzushi’, or conveyor-belt sushi sector is estimated to contribute multi-billions of dollars a year to the Japanese economy, and has been a major attraction in the Japanese tourism industry – until now.

~ Maggie James