"Sushi Terrorists" Licking Food Are Plaguing Restaurants
Teenagers are licking people’s food, mugs, and spoons in sushi restaurants.
Japanese public and restaurant-goers are appalled by the actions of what they call a group of "sushi terrorists"—young people who film themselves licking soy sauce bottles and tea cups before posting the videos online. The incidents appear to be geared towards getting social media clout and going viral, and people are understandably horrified by the trend.
"After watching this video, I can no longer go to the 'karazushi' restaurant that I used to go to every week," one person commented on a news site. Here's what the restaurants are doing to fight back.
One viral video shows a young man at a restaurant, laughing as he licks the top of a soy sauce bottle and the rim of a mug before placing it back with the clean mugs. The video has been viewed 93 million times, and the Sushiro chain is reassuring customers they are taking extra precautions moving forward.
Sushiro says all soy sauce bottles have been replaced, and mugs have been washed. Customers must now pick up their utensils at a specific serving point.
Other "kaitenzushi" restaurant conveyor belt chains say diners have been spotted putting spicy condiments on dishes and licking spoons. Restaurants are responding with legal action against the customers involved.
The teenager in the first video was brought in by his parents to apologize, but Sushiro is pursuing charges. "As a company, we will continue to respond firmly with both criminal and civil cases," Sushiro said.
Shares in restaurant chains involved have fallen since the videos went viral, but people are fighting back. "I've always wanted to go to Sushiro but haven't been able to because it's always crowded," singer Yuya Tegoshi tweeted. "But the situation now is the absolute worst for them, so I'm definitely going to visit."
Japan is notorious for its high food safety and hygiene standards, which makes the videos all the more unacceptable. "Omotenashi (hospitality) is an important selling point in Japan, so I think it's unforgivable," says Tokyo-based musician Luna Watanabe, 20. "It's harmful to customers and employees."
Grateful For Support
Sushiro president Kohei Nii is overwhelmed by the strong public support and defense of his business. "I'm so grateful I could cry," he tweeted. According to the JiJi press agency, the Hama Sushi and Kura Sushi chains are also taking legal action. They have also announced plans to install cameras above conveyor belts to prevent sushi terrorism from happening again.