April 6, 2023 | 2:09 p.m.
Japan’s stomach-churning “sushi terrorism” is rampant.
Police arrested two men in Osaka this week for contaminating a communal bowl of pickled ginger at a fast food restaurant as part of a viral prank.
Ryu Shimazu, 35, and Toshihide Oka, 34, filmed themselves dipping their chopsticks into the communal bowl and eating at Yoshinoya, a popular meat bowl chain in the port city.
A restaurant spokesperson said customers can only use serving utensils to pick out the ginger, not dip with chopsticks already in their mouths.
“The video made our regular customers uncomfortable and uncomfortable,” Yoshinoya said in a statement, adding that the chain had to close the restaurant to clean out its bins.
“We are very sorry that this has become a major story that calls into question the safety of the entire food service industry. We sincerely hope that this kind of thing doesn’t happen again in the future.”
According to the police, Oka had goaded Shimazu into doing something funny at the restaurant, causing Shimazu to feast on the ginger while his friend filmed it.
They told police they just “wanted to make everyone laugh” and thought it was “funny.”
The prank drew a lot of laughs online, but the fallout is no laughing matter.
The couple now faces obstruction of business and property damage charges that carry fines of up to $6,080 and up to three years in prison.
The incident is just the latest in a series of “sushi terrorism” hoaxes plaguing Japan’s fast food industry, particularly its conveyor belt sushi system.
Police last month arrested three people for allegedly licking the top of a communal soy sauce container and using their hands to scoop sushi off a conveyor belt at Kurta Sushi restaurant in central Japan.
Similar incidents spread on social media in recent years have raised concerns that the country’s conveyor belt sushi system and community bowl restaurants may be outdated and in need of a major overhaul.