Most of us will be well aware of the slew of dubious, sometimes downright dangerous “trends” that take off on TikTok, from cooking steak in a toaster to the deadly “blackout challenge” that has been linked to a number of deaths among young people.
And now, a new “prank” is circulating on social media and amassing millions of views. Branded “sushi terrorism”, the trend involves licking or tampering with sushi at sushi train restaurants, meaning the tainted food is transported to other unsuspecting diners. It appears the trend is predominantly affecting restaurants in Japan, but has likely spread to other countries.
For the uninitiated, sushi train restaurants feature a conveyor belt that stretches throughout the venue and passes each table, allowing customers to reach over and grab different dishes or plates of sushi as they travel by.
During a news segment on Wednesday morning’s AM, co-hosts Ryan Bridge and Melissa Chan-Green were visibly disgusted as they discussed the shenanigans.
“Japan is dealing with something they’ve called ‘sushi terrorism’… they’re having some issues with hygiene incidents,” Chan-Green began.
“That is someone licking the bowl and putting it back on the sushi train,” Bridge narrated as footage of a young man touching various dishes with a saliva-covered finger played out.
“He’s just licked his finger, he’s licking the sushi, and the train is continuing around [the restaurant].”
The prank has also seen people daub copious amounts of wasabi, a spicy Japanese horseradish, on the sushi as it passes by their table.
“They’ve also had people putting big daubs of wasabi on the sushi as well. If you haven’t had a big nostril full of wasabi before, it’s a real shock if you’re not expecting it,” Chan-Green added with a giggle.
Bridge appeared less amused, deadpanning that TikTok and other social media platforms spell the “downfall of modern society”.
“We have these stories all the time in the news about TikTok trends – you know, they’re fiddling with the power lines or they’re stealing a certain type of car. It’s all related back to TikTok,” he said. “I suspect this is probably just a TikTok thing, isn’t it?”
“Let’s just blame everything on social media, I reckon,” Chan-Green responded.
A particular clip of the prank has gone viral after being shared in January, with one version of the footage – reshared by ITV News’ TikTok account – racking up more than 1.1 million views. Other footage reshared by Vice has surpassed 4 million.
The footage, which also featured on the AM segment, shows a young man licking his finger before smearing the saliva on the food as it passes by their table. In another separate clip, he can be seen snatching a clean teacup from above the conveyor belt and running the rim between his lips before placing it back.
In another clip, shared by Today Online, a man can be seen spraying disinfectant on the dishes of food at a Sushiro, a major multinational chain of sushi train restaurants. Other iterations of the prank include people licking or sucking clean chopsticks or communal soy sauce bottles.
As per an article by The Japan Times last month, the operator of Sushiro announced it will temporarily limit the use of conveyor belts after a customer was found to have licked unused cups and sushi.
Akindo Sushiro Co. said in a press release that customers will be asked to order food on a touch screen panel, instead of taking ready-made food from the conveyor belts.
According to the outlet, Akindo Sushiro has filed a complaint against the customer in the viral video.
As per Vice, the popular beef bowl chain Yoshinoya closed down one of its stores on February 5 after a video of a customer eating ginger directly from a communal container went viral.