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Kaiten-zushi: The Sushi Carousel

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Published: Nov 1 2023

Navigating through the labyrinthine streets of Japan, travelers might come across the inviting kanji characters 回転寿司 or the hiragana かいてんずし, beckoning them to experience a unique culinary venture. These characters often accompany realistic miniature sushi models showcased in the window or vivid imagery of revolving sushi plates on the signage. Such identifiers serve as unmistakable gateways to the fascinating world of kaiten-zushi, also known as conveyor belt sushi restaurants. This marks the first step for any travel enthusiast seeking to experience a marriage between tradition and modernity in Japanese dining.


The typical kaiten-zushi restaurant offers guests a choice between sitting at a counter that surrounds a revolving conveyor belt or occupying a booth with its own dedicated section of the conveyor.

Colorful plates of sushi circulate on these belts, inviting customers to pick and choose as they please. The practice here is simple: pick up a plate that catches the eye, enjoy the sushi, and stack the empty plate for counting later. Payment is usually determined by the color and number of plates accumulated during the dining experience.

Color equals price

The Evolving Landscape: Digitalization and Enhanced Hygiene

Recent trends in Kaiten-zushi dining have seen the integration of digital elements to elevate the customer experience.

Touchscreens are now commonly found at tables or booths, providing an interactive way to place orders while also retaining the visual appeal of the conveyor belts. These screens are typically designed to accommodate two users simultaneously and may include built-in games and quizzes for additional entertainment.

Some restaurants like the Sushiro chain (shown in the picture above) have modified service protocols to involve staff in distributing utensils and condiments to customers, thereby enhancing hygiene without diminishing the interactive experience.

Similarly, Kura Sushi has introduced sensor and camera systems to some of its conveyor belts as an added assurance for customer well-being.

Changing Times

Beyond the Culinary Experience

Kaiten-zushi is not just a dining option; it's a microcosm of Japanese innovation and tradition wrapped in a single experience. Here, one can enjoy not only a multitude of sushi offerings but also the pleasure of an environment that is both entertaining and increasingly focused on hygiene.

The added digital elements and revamped service protocols reflect a keen attention to customer satisfaction and peace of mind. It's an evolving tradition that skillfully marries the old with the new, offering a unique and safe dining experience that engages all senses.

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