The future is already here in this branch of Kura Sushi!

Kaitenzushi (or conveyor belt sushi) restaurants, in theory, seem like veritable hotspots for potential coronavirus outbreaks. After all, customers are encouraged to grab plates of sushi freely from the conveyor belts, and most orders are made through touch screen controls. Who knows how many different grubby hands have been touching the equipment before you? Many sushi restaurants have already taken measures to help keep their customers safe during the pandemic, but on his latest trip to his local branch of Kura Sushi, sushi aficionado and SoraNews24 reporter Mr. Sato was surprised to see just how far the restaurant had gone to keep their customers safe. It appeared you could enjoy a meal without touching any of the in-store equipment at all, or talking to any of the staff.

First of all, when you enter the store you check in. Usually this is done by talking to a member of staff, or filling in your details on a touch screen, but at this contactless restaurant, the screen is equipped with special sensors so you don’t need to actually touch it to make selections. Without your fingers making contact with the screen, you can use the panel and check yourself in. So cool! Mr. Sato felt like he had travelled through time to the distant future. Would a flying car take him to his seat?

Well, not quite. But the machine prints out a paper with your table number on it, so you don’t have to come in contact with any employees. If you’re anything like me, you’ll probably just want to crumple the paper up, but you need it when it’s time to pay, so keep it safe.

Once you’re at your table, it’s time to start ordering some sushi. The usual touch panel is there, and if you want you can go ahead and use it like normal, but Mr. Sato was determined to have a fully contactless meal, so he scanned the QR code with his phone

… and was taken to a special Kura Sushi website, where he could order away to his heart’s content, free from touching the possibly germ-ridden communal screen that who knows who else has touched!

This was Mr. Sato’s first time ordering through his phone, so to start off he went with some spear squid and amberjack sushi. The website only lets you order sushi one plate at a time, but it was certainly more convenient to order from your phone, rather than spend time looking up at a screen.

Mr. Sato ordered and waited for his sushi to arrive. It was taking a little while, but just as he started to doubt whether or not he’d actually ordered it… it came!

If you check your order history on the website, it tells you what you ordered and when it arrived at your table. It also tracks how many plates you’ve put in the empty plate slot.

▼ Three plates so far for Mr. Sato

Since entering, Mr. Sato had not touched a single machine in the store, but how would it end? When it came time to leave, he pressed “checkout” on his phone. To his dismay, his so far flawlessly contactless meal came to a screeching halt when he realised he needed to press the checkout button on the in-store touch screen too. No special sensors here, so his finger made full contact with the screen, twice; once to check the number of plates eaten and once more to confirm the bill. Mr. Sato was tantalisingly close to a perfectly contactless meal, but just fell short at the last hurdle.

Take the paper you got at the start of the meal to the self-checkout machine. Scan it and pay by cash, credit card or electric money and you’re good to go.

Many Kura Sushi branches around Japan are already taking steps towards contactless meals, but so far the only stores that offer the website service are Tokyo’s Kichijoji and Higashi-Maruyama restaurants, with Hyogo’s Koshien branch offering the smartphone website order service from December 7. If you fancy trying out the contactless Kura Sushi store, or you just want to sit in the very same seat Mr. Sato occupied, the Higashi-Maruyama store information can be found below (his seat was #40, by the way). Kura Sushi have plans to spread their contactless stores across Japan in the future, but in the meantime you’ll have to make do with less technologically advanced (but still perfectly viable!) anti-corona measures.

Restaurant information
Kura Sushi (Higashi Maruyama branch) / くら寿司(東村山店)
Address: Tokyo-to, Higashimurayama-shi, Kumegawacho, 5-3-1
Open 11 a.m.-11 p.m.

Photos ©SoraNews24
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