Sushi will stop revolving as early at this week at branches of Tokyo-area kaiten sushi chain.

For the past month, the topic dominating discussion of the restaurant industry in Japan has been viral videos in which pranksters go to a conveyor belt sushi restaurant, handle the utensils or food in a disgustingly unsanitary manner, then leave them for other customers to unwittingly use. The behavior has been dubbed “sushi terrorism,” and the loss of confidence in the cleanliness of Japan’s revolving sushi restaurants poses a threat to a unique part of modern Japanese food culture.

One of the kaiten sushi (as Japan calls revolving sushi) restaurants to be victimized by sushi terrorism is Choshimaru, an east Japan chain with branches in Tokyo and the neighboring prefecture of Chiba, Kanagawa, and Saitama. In early February, a video was posted of a prankster placing a cigarette butt inside a container of pickled ginger left on the table between parties which customers to serve themselves from. Choshimaru has since changed its operating policies so that fresh condiments and utensils are brought by staff to the table every time a new group is seated, and has now announced that all 63 restaurants in the chain will be switching to a “full-order system,” meaning that going forward no sushi will be moving down the conveyor belt for any interested diner to claim.

▼ A Choshimaru branch

The move to a full-order system, in which customers place their order either verbally or via touch screen and then have their sushi delivered to them, is actually meant to accomplish two things. First, doing away with plates of slow-moving up-for-grabs sushi will make it harder for a prankster to touch, lick, or otherwise handle food that someone else is going to eat, since direct-delivery lanes at kaiten sushi restaurants move too quickly to tamper with the sushi as it zips by. Secondly, making a stock of up-for-grabs plates of sushi to send down the line in hopes that someone will eat them can result in a lot of food loss, since after a set amount of time unclaimed sushi is removed from circulation an thrown away. Switching to a full-order system in a win-win in terms of cleanliness and profitability, and when you add in that many customers prefer the fresher quality of made-to-order sushi, getting rid of the revolving up-for-grabs plates is a win-win-win.

▼ A Choshimaru touch screen

However, abolishing the revolving sushi system has some drawbacks too. For one thing, you’re no longer able to see the specific sushi piece before you decide to eat it, so if you’re a broad-palleted sushi lover who saunters in with the idea of grabbing whatever happens to look tasty that day as it comes down the line, you’re out of luck. Made-to-order sushi also takes more time than just grabbing something from the lane, and there’s definitely a drop in fun factor too, as the sight of the colorful parade of up-for-grabs plates and the instant gratification of taking one always makes kaiten sushi meals feel extra special.

Choshimaru says that all of its branches will be order-only by April 26, with some locations making the changeover as early as this week. Putting a stop to its sushi revolving follows a similar decision by national kaiten sushi chain Sushiro last month, and there may be more dominos falling soon, though as least one chain plans to keep its sushi revolving with the help of AI cameras.

Source: Choshimaru (1, 2, 3) via Yorozu via Otakomu
Photos ©SoraNews24
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!