YouTube hit has restaurant’s owners seeing red, and not because of any mouth-watering maguro tuna.

Earlier this month, foreign YouTuber TkyoSam and a pal were eating at a branch of Sushiro, one of Japan’s most popular revolving sushi chains. Either by premeditated design or on a whim, TkyoSam put his GoPro on the conveyor belt, and what followed was a compellingly candid glimpse into a moment in the lives of the other diners the camera travelled past.

After filming couples on dates and groups of friends, the conveyor carried the camera back into the kitchen, where it was discovered by employees who returned it to TkyoSam, who then uploaded the video to YouTube where it became a viral hit.

But while “viral video” is usually used to describe a video that awareness of spreads rapidly, Sushiro itself seems to think it was viral in the sense of “harmful,” and is now considering bringing criminal charges against TkyoSam and/or anyone else who tries to replicate his guerilla filming tactics.

In a statement on its website, Akindo Sushiro, the company that manages the Sushiro chain, says:

It has come to our attention that a customer at one of our restaurants recently placed a portable camera on the conveyor belt, recorded inside the restaurant, and uploaded the video to a video sharing site.

The recording of the video was not authorized by our company.

When the video was being recorded, or response was insufficient, and we sincerely apologize for the discomfort and severe annoyance that the incident caused.

The conveyor belt at the restaurant where the incident took place has been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.

The customer’s actions are intolerable from both a hygiene standpoint and in terms of protecting the privacy of other customers, and we are currently consulting the local police authorities about the incident.

To ensure that this sort of thing doesn’t happen again, we will be instructing our restaurant staff to be diligent against such actions, and will be dealing strictly with the uploader of the video and any future imitators, including considering legal action.

Once again, we sincerely apologize for the discomfort and severe annoyance this has caused.

In general, Japan takes hygiene very seriously, and the country’s privacy laws are also much stricter than in many other nations (if you’ve ever wondered why you sometimes see faces blurred out in photography of our on-site event reports, that’s why). While a number of the diners seen in TkyoSam’s video waved and smiled for the camera, some also seemed perplexed or startled by suddenly having a lens pointed at them.

Granted, in this age of social media, many Japanese restaurants welcome a bit of online exposure, and Japanese shutterbugs were enthusiastically snapping pictures of their food long before the rest of the world got into the hobby of amateur culinary photography. What’s likely got Akindo Sushiro so irked, though, is that more so than the food or the restaurant, one could argue that the aim of TkyoSam’s video is to show the customers, some of whom ostensibly just wanted to eat their meal and didn’t expect, or want, to become the stars of a YouTube video.

So while Akindo Sushiro’s reaction might seem overly uptight to some, from the company’s perspective, they’re weighing the benefits of customers enjoying being on camera against the feelings of those who’d find the experience unpleasant, and given how strict Japanese consumers are about customer service, it’s not so strange that they’d want to stop these antics before they become a regular occurrence.

As for all that scary talk of legal action? TkyoSam’s video has already been deleted from YouTube (whether by his choice or the website’s is unknown), and since Akindo Sushiro posted the statement on March 10, there’s been no concrete announcement that they’ve begun pressing charges against the YouTuber. Still, the threat is out there, so maybe you’re better off keeping your camera pointed at the sushi instead.

Source: Akindo Sushiro via Jin
Top image: Pakutaso

Follow Casey on Twitter, where, personally, he’s pretty much resigned to there always being a possibility he’s going to be filmed/show up on the Internet when he leaves the house in this day and age.