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Home Feeds Japanese lick soy sauce bottles in viral ‘sushi terrorism’ videos

Japanese lick soy sauce bottles in viral ‘sushi terrorism’ videos


TOKYO — They lick communal soy sauce bottles and spit on other people’s sushi rolls. They slurp from spoons in communal bowls. And they laugh into the camera.

These pranksters, looking to go viral online at conveyor belt sushi restaurants, have become the buzziest topic on Japanese social media this past week. Their videos have each generated millions of views and have sparked so much outrage and disgust that a new term is trending: “sushi tero,” short for sushi terrorism.

Such scenes would elicit disgust anywhere. But they have set off a national wave of revulsion in Japan, known for its exacting standards of both hygiene and politeness.

This week, Sushiro, a conveyor belt sushi restaurant chain where one of the most-viewed recent videos was filmed, took the rare step of submitting a complaint to the police about a boy who licked unused cups and soy sauce bottles and touched other people’s sushi after licking his fingers. The video, taken in an outlet in the central province of Gifu, has generated tens of millions of views since it hit the internet.

Sushiro’s decision to pursue civil and criminal actions came as a surprise: The boy, whose age was not disclosed, and his parents apologized to the restaurant. But the restaurant claimed it has suffered reputational and financial damage; its stock fell by 5 percent, or nearly $125 million, after those videos went viral, reported TV Asahi, a Japanese news outlet.

Viral prank videos on social media are hardly new. And there have been many incidents like these in recent years at conveyor belt sushi, or “kaitenzushi,” restaurant chains that offer a more affordable and casual sushi dining experience and are popular among families and Japanese youth. They are often machine-operated — you order sushi on tablets and it comes out on the conveyor belt — with little human interaction.

Nonetheless, the latest videos on TikTok, Twitter and Instagram have garnered huge social media interest. “Conveyor belt sushi” became the No. 1 trending term on Twitter this week, with many social media users expressing worries about going to a kaitenzushi restaurant again.

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The clips have spawned copycats who also have gone viral, such as a customer at Sukesan Udon, a chain in the southern Japanese city of Fukuoka, who licked a shared spoon used for communal bowls of toppings for the udon noodles. The video took off on TikTok, and on Wednesday, the restaurant announced it had filed a police complaint.

Older videos are also gaining a new lease on life. In one, a young man puts sushi back on the conveyor belt after touching it. It was filmed four years ago, but the restaurant, Kurasushi, has just now filed a police complaint.

The police complaints have led to a debate on social media about whether taking legal action against the pranksters — some of whom are minors — is a step too far. But others say legal action is necessary to show that other customers take such stunts seriously.

“Regarding the conveyor belt sushi videos,” read one tweet, which was retweeted or liked nearly 100,000 times. “Hamazushi, Kurasushi, Sushiro should file a lawsuit and demand millions of yen in damages and really make them suffer. Even if the other party is a parent. By letting this painful experience be widely known, hopefully it will stop future incidents from happening.”

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The videos appear to be a spillover of an existing Japanese YouTube trend, known as “meiwaku-douga,” or nuisance videos. These YouTubers film videos just to get attention for causing trouble. Some show them eating food at a supermarket before paying, writing graffiti over a message board about someone’s memorial service or walking around during a covid wave without a mask.

But those videos mainly stayed on YouTube, where they are less likely to go viral in ways that videos can take off on Twitter and TikTok. Japan is the largest international market on Twitter behind the United States.

Other recent viral videos taken at kaitenzushi restaurants fit the mold of these nuisance videos. In one, a young man eats a piece of sushi off the belt without paying for it.

In another video originally posted on Jan. 9, someone puts wasabi on sushi rolls as the plate makes its way along the conveyor belt to the intended customer. Hamazushi, the kaitenzushi restaurant chain where both of these videos were filmed, has also filed a report to the police.

Aside from such nuisance videos filmed at restaurants, there have been other troubling videos in recent weeks of Japanese TikTokers harassing homeless people for views, which have similarly sparked outrage online.

For example, in a video posted on Jan. 18, a young Japanese woman takes an older homeless woman to a convenience store in Nagoya, west of Tokyo, pretending to buy the woman food. But the young woman abandons her at the cash register and runs away, laughing.

*This story has not been edited by The Infallible staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.