Amid concerns about food hygiene prompted by unsettling pranks, the popular Japanese sushi chain Sushiro has introduced a cutting-edge solution: digital conveyor belts. Instead of traditional rotating “kaiten” style belts, Sushiro now offers a unique dining experience with touchscreen devices, allowing customers in three of their stores in Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya to order via animated representations of sushi and other menu items. The chosen dishes are then delivered directly to their tables via a separate conveyor belt from the kitchen.

The motivation for this shift in service style stems from a disturbing trend referred to as “sushi terrorism.” Over the course of this year, pranksters, inspired by viral online videos, have engaged in reckless acts, such as licking shared soy sauce bottles and tampering with food on the traditional conveyor belts at Sushiro restaurants. Law enforcement has already arrested at least five individuals in connection with these incidents. Notably, Akindo Sushiro is pursuing a 67 million yen ($480,000) lawsuit against a high school student for a video posted on social media in which he licked his finger and touched sushi passing on a conveyor belt. This incident reportedly cost the company approximately 16 billion yen ($115 million) due to a severe decline in customer turnout and a drop in the parent company’s stock value. The introduction of digital conveyor belts is viewed as an attempt to improve hygiene and modernize the dining experience post-Covid, with some customers applauding the potential for reducing food waste and enhancing cleanliness. However, others mourn the potential loss of the beloved traditional kaiten style, citing concerns about the convenience of the new system.