'Sushi terrorism' forces Japan's restaurants to DITCH conveyor belts

‘Sushi terrorism’ forces Japan’s restaurants to DITCH their famous conveyor belts after viral video of customer rubbing saliva on food causes nationwide disgust

  • Revolting trend sees people tamper with and spoil strangers’ orders in Japan
  • Restaurants are forced to introduce costly measures or close conveyor belts

A sickening social media craze that sees diners tamper with and spoil strangers’ food in Japan has led some sushi restaurants to close down their famous conveyor belts.

Other establishments have been forced to invest in extra CCTV cameras, protective glass and even ‘smart’ conveyor belts that detect when a plate is removed and replaced. 

The disgusting trend sees mostly young people performing a variety of unhygienic acts such as licking, spitting or squirting sanitiser onto other people’s orders as the meals glide past. The so-called ‘sushi terrorism’ has even caused the stock price of some restaurant chains to plummet. 

Choshimaru, a chain which operates restaurants in and around Tokyo, recently told SoraNews24 all of its conveyor belts would be shut down next month with more staff pulled in to hand-deliver orders after a diner stubbed out a cigarette in a pot of pickled ginger.

Meanwhile, an investigation conducted by Japanese broadcaster NHK showed how another restaurant operator Kura Sushi has installed a series of costly security measures in an effort to combat the revolting acts.

One disgusting clip shared on social media showed a young man removing a piece of sushi from a passing plate and putting it into his mouth. He then removed the morsel of food and pushed it back onto the plate 

Kura Sushi has installed a series of costly security measures in an effort to combat the revolting acts

Plates are fitted with protective screens, while the conveyor belts are fitted with alarms and CCTV cameras

Their hi-tech setup sees conveyor belts fitted with alarm systems and cameras to track the movement of plates and detect any tampering.

As a last line of defence, the plates themselves are fitted with protective screens on hinges to discourage people from attempting to mess with the food.

Kura Sushi has introduced the systems in restaurants in Japan’s Saitama Prefecture and Osaka, where restaurant managers will be notified if the system detects suspicious behaviour. 

The new equipment can identify the specific plate and seat number in question, it claimed.

‘Conveyor-belt sushi is something we are proud of as part of Japanese culture. We want to make sure our customers can eat sushi delivered on the belt safely and comfortably,’ a company official said.

Meanwhile, industry leader Sushiro told The Guardian said it would no longer use conveyor belts for all its customers and declared its sushi would be delivered via an ‘express lane’ exclusively to customers who order via touch-screen devices.

The change came after Sushiro suffered a slump in customers amid the rise in ‘sushi terrorism’. 

One video of a boy licking soy sauce bottles, utensils and wiping his spit on food in a Sushiro restaurant went viral, Sushiro said the teen had been forced to apologise by his parents but added that the firm had filed a formal police complaint.

‘As a company, we will continue to respond firmly with both criminal and civil cases,’ it said.

It said all the soy sauce bottles at the affected store had been replaced and all the cups cleaned, and announced new restaurant policies.

But these measures have provided little comfort to horrified Japanese restaurant-goers.

‘This is sickening,’ one Japanese Twitter user wrote in response to the video, with another adding: ‘I can’t go to conveyor belt sushi restaurants anymore.’

In another clip, a customer licked his finger and wiped it along the food moving past his table 


In Tokyo, one young woman said she was appalled by the videos.

‘Omotenashi (hospitality) is an important selling point in Japan, so I think it’s unforgivable,’ she told AFP in Tokyo’s upscale Ginza district.

‘It’s harmful to customers and employees.’ 

The outcry led to a wave of support for sushi companies struggling to contend with the slump in footfall, with some people tweeting their backing under the hashtag #saveSushiro.

‘I’ve always wanted to go to Sushiro but haven’t been able to because it’s always crowded,’ Japanese singer Yuya Tegoshi tweeted.

‘But the situation now is the absolute worst for them, so I’m definitely going to visit.’

Sushiro president Kohei Nii said on Twitter he had been overwhelmed by ‘an outpouring of support’.

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