Conveyor belt sushi comes full-circle.

Although he’s made a name for himself in Tokyo, our writer Seiji Nakazawa originally hails from Osaka. Throughout pretty much all of Japan’s history, Osaka has been a major hub for commerce and manufacturing and many major corporations like Sharp and Panasonic started in the area. But it wasn’t until Seiji came back to visit his parents that he realized it’s also the birthplace of the entire concept of revolving sushi.

To be exact, the very first restaurant of this kind opened in the city of Higashiosaka, a steel-town suburb directly to the east of Osaka City. It’s here that the Genroku Sushi chain opened its first location in 1958. The dining concept had since took off and Genroku was the household name in revolving sushi before heavyweight competitors like Sushiro and Kappa Sushi hit the scene.

Having learned that he was so close to such a historic site, Seiji decided to hop on a train to Fuse Station and check it out.

The restaurant was located just to the side of Fuse Station’s main shopping arcade. Seiji had gone to Kinki University and with Fuse being a main station leading out from there, he often spent wild nights of his youth hanging out in this area.

Not much had changed since those days. Even the rentable rehearsal space for bands was still there. It was here that Seiji honed his skills to become the JASRAC listed musician he is today.

There was a strange sort of permanence to the area and when he finally got to Genroku Sushi, it seemed as new and as thriving as ever.

He used to eat Genroku when he was a kid and remembered that each plate was about 100 yen (US$0.69), but much like everywhere else, rising prices have taken their toll, to the tune of 143 yen ($0.98) per plate. There were also higher ranked and more luxurious items for 171 yen ($1.71) and 231 yen ($1.59).

But the great thing about Genroku is the way it offers a wide range of sushi in the lower tier compared with other similar restaurants.

Of course, Seiji took advantage of this and ordered some battera (pressed mackerel) and three other classics like salmon and tuna.

But he spent most of his time in the 171-yen range, eating some higher-end plates like this hamo (pike conger eel)…

…as well as a nicely garnished iwashi (sardine).

And since this was such a historic occasion, Seiji splurged on some broiled eel for 231 yen.

When the dust settled, our reporter had devoured 12 plates and spent a total of 2,280 yen ($15.65), which is a fairly competitive price these days. Also, this Genroku does things the old way with sushi chefs standing in the lanes preparing the items. It’s charming and a refreshing change from the mysterious back rooms a lot of the big chains use where anything could be going on.

And when he left he noticed that in front of this restaurant there was a stone monument declaring this to be the first-ever revolving sushi restaurant. 

It gave an even heavier sense of permanence to this place. In these days where a lot of revolving sushi chains in Japan are facing existential crises, it seems like this Genroku Sushi will be the alpha and omega of the format and outlast any competitor in the very place it began.

And even after aliens invade us and wipe out civilization along with all its conveyor belt sushi, this monument will continue to exist as a reminder that humans once inhabited this area and ate bits of vinegared rice from tiny plates that drifted by our seats.

Restaurant Information
Genroku Sushi Honten / 元禄寿司 本店
Address: Osaka-fu, Higashiosaka-shi, Ajiro 1-12-1
Hours: 11:15 a.m. – 10:30 p.m. (Weekdays), 10:45 a.m. – 10:45 p.m. (Weekends & Holidays)
Open 7 Days a week

Photos © SoraNews24
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