Updated Feb 7, 2023, 10:06am EST
East Asia

TikTok’s ‘sushi terrorism’ pranks threaten Japan’s conveyer belt restaurants


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Viral social media videos of pranksters tampering with sushi at conveyor belt restaurants in Japan — dubbed ‘sushi terrorism’ by local media — have renewed debate about hygiene standards at the revolving eateries.

Yoshio Tsunoda/AFLO
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Conveyor belt sushi, where assorted dishes rotate past customers, has been a staple feature of Japan’s restaurant scene since the 1950s, one that it has successfully exported around the world.

But in recent weeks TikTok videos of pranksters licking sushi and putting it back on the belt — variously dubbed “sushi terrorism” or “saliva terrorism” —have gone viral, sparking debates about hygiene standards and the future of the conveyor belt concept.

Sushiro, one of the biggest sushi chains in Japan has considered pursuing legal action against those who were caught pulling tricks at restaurants.

At least one sushi restaurant chain announced it will remove its conveyor belt as others are devising mitigating strategies, Unseen Japan reported. Hamazushi said that it will scrap the conveyor concept — replacing rotating belts with a “straight lane” to zipline diners their items.

Another chain, Kura Sushi, said it would start placing covers on dishes and use containers with chips that can monitor how long an item has sat on the conveyor belt and when a customer has put an item back, according to Unseen Japan.