Tokyo [Japan], February 8 (ANI): The unhygienic pranks at sushi conveyor belt restaurants in Japan have sparked outrage as well as sympathy amid its falling stocks, venue overhauls and legal action, reported NHK World.
Several videos dubbed “sushi terrorism” have emerged on social media including Twitter and TikTok in recent days sparking disgust, legal action and even a social media campaign to help one of the affected companies.
One of the videos, taken at a Sushiro outlet, shows a diner who appears to be in his teens licking the spout of a communal soy sauce bottle.
He then licks the rim of a teacup and puts it back on the shelf. As the clip went viral — racking up tens of millions of views — it caused stocks in the restaurant’s parent company, FoodLife Companies, to slump, reported NHK World.
Other videos emerged showing customers at different chains putting wasabi on passing pieces of sushi or licking the spoon in a communal green tea powder container.
Though the incidents appear to be confined to just a few videos, they have caused an uproar in Japan, a country with famously high standards of cleanliness.
“This is sickening,” one Japanese Twitter user wrote in response, with another adding: “I can’t go to conveyor belt sushi restaurants anymore.”The firm responded by filing a report to police alleging reputational damage, reported NHK World.
“We take this matter very seriously because it undermines the trust between the operator and its customers,” FoodLife Companies said in a statement. “Our customers have been disgusted by this video, which is completely unacceptable.”The company said that although the teen in the video and his parents have both apologized, it intends to pursue the matter as both a criminal and civil case.
The company has also taken countermeasures to prevent similar incidents. Customers at the affected restaurant and at nearby outlets must now bring utensils and condiments to their tables from a central service point.
The company says it will also provide freshly disinfected tableware at the request of diners at any of its locations nationwide, reported NHK World.
The videos have caused disaster for Japan’s Yen740 billion (USD 8.1 billion) sushi industry.
Sushiro, the largest sushi restaurant chain in Japan, claims it has suffered reputational and financial damage because of the controversy.
Sushiro’s stock tumbled 5 per cent, amounting to a USD 181 million loss, Japanese news outlet TV Asahi reported.
In footage filmed at the sushi chain Hamazushi, a customer puts wasabi on someone else’s order as it passes him on the conveyor belt.
And in yet another prank shared on social media, a diner at an outlet of the noodle restaurant chain Sukesan Udon eats spoonfuls of tempura toppings with a communal serving spoon. The operator says it has also filed a report to police, reported NHK World.
However, the initial social media backlash has given way to an outpouring of support, with many people posting images or videos of their visits to Sushiro outlets with the accompanying hashtag saveSushiro, reported NHK World.
The company’s president, Nii Kohei, wrote on Twitter that he felt overwhelmed by the kind words: “I’m so grateful I could cry.”Although this “sushi terrorism” trend may be shocking, it’s actually nothing new in Japanese culture.
The viral videos appear to be in the same style as an existing Japanese YouTube trend, known as “meiwaku-douga”, or “nuisance videos”. (ANI)