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Food entertainment:Sushi-go-round! How did Kaiten-sushi(or Kaitenzushi) start?

People from overseas, including Wan-kun, often tell me “I love Kaitenzushi! You should go and try it!.” I know that a Kaitenzushi restaurant serves sushi dishes on a revolving counter, and I can eat tasty sushi even though it’s like a fast-food sushi restaurant. Everyone knows this! But, the other day Wan-kun asked me ”When and how did Kaitenzuzhi appear?” I said “Let me think about it for a second. Umm…” I don’t know at all! Then, I quickly checked it.

Sushi had the image of being expensive for a long time. This image was erased by Kaitenzushi.

At these restaurants, different colored plates go around the tables on a conveyor belt, and plate’s colors indicate the prices.This revolutionary idea started in 1958. Before that, there used to only be ordinary sushi restaurants where professional chefs made sushi in front of you to order. And many exclusive restaurants didn’t show the prices, so you didn’t know how much each piece was in these kinds of restaurants. I remember a time when some people were at a loss for words when they saw their bill.Only saying ”Oh no..” There was even a rumor that a restaurant set a price depending on each person.Because of that, sushi restaurants didn’t use to be places where you went with your family.

Mr.Yoshiaki Shiraishi created Kaitenzushi. He originally worked as a chef in a sushi restaurant in Higashi Osaka in Osaka prefecture. There were many small town factories around there, and he ran a stand-up sushi restaurant with the intension of offering cheap sushi for workers. But there was a problem, as the number of customers increased, the staff couldn’t keep up and customers couldn’t relax in the restaurant. As Yoshiaki Shiraishi considered the problem, he went to observe a beer factory and saw an automatic conveyor belt. He came up with an idea from that! “If I made sushi before taking an order, and place them on a conveyor belt, customers can select whatever they want.”

Then, the first Kaitenzushi restaurant named Genroku-zushi opened in 1958.

Genroku-zushi was exhibited in the Japan World Exposition in Osaka in 1970, and this new style of sushi received an award. This made the restaurant boom and gain popularity quickly.This rotating sushi system’s patent ran out in 1978. Since then,Kaitenzushi has spread like wildfire all over Japan, and now here they are.Although there are many styles of Kaitenzushi today, the basic style is that you pick the sushi plates you like from a rotating conveyor belt and eat. The prices are determined according to the colors and patterns of the plates.The bill is calculated by counting the number and type of plates. That’s why non-Japanese speakers can enjoy it easily by just grabbing your choice and looking at the plates! Almost all restaurants have free green tea sitting on the tables. Tea is usually self-serve. Scoop a little bit of green tea powder into your tea cup, and add hot water from the tap.

When you can’t see your desired sushi on the conveyor belt,you can order it from the staff directly, or some restaurants also offer touchpads to place orders electronically.There also are other items besides sushi like dessert and side dishes,such as French fries, fried chicken and so on. It’s so great you can eat exactly what you want as much as you like!

I, from Hokkaido, personally recommend a popular restaurant Kaitenzushi-Hanamaru, which has branches in Hokkaido and Tokyo. My favorite sushi in this restaurant is the raw scallop. Its fresh,thick and sweet taste is spectacular! And the seasonal specialities are no doubt delicious.Due to the popularity of this restaurant, you might wait for 2 hours on weekdays or holidays, but I don’t mind waiting for it.. Kaitenzhshi is not only delicious but also exciting.That's Entertainment! When you visit Japan, you should go there at least once!

Although, there used to be other kinds of Kaiten restaurants, such as Kaiten Nabe(hot pot) and Kaiten Yakiniku(Japanese BBQ) ,only sushi remains now.You can see how much sushi is loved in Japan.


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