Licking the sushi: Japanese trend with guaranteed disgust

Licking the sushi: Japanese trend with guaranteed disgust

Japanese teenagers lick other people’s food in restaurants and post videos of it online. With great success. Why all that?

As if raw fish wasn't difficult enough, Japanese teenagers lick it off too.

As if raw fish wasn’t difficult enough, Japanese teenagers lick it off too.imago

No tamagotchis or anime, the latest Japanese trend is sushi topped with strangers’ saliva. Licking other people’s food and making out with soy sauce bottles is what Japanese teenagers seem to be into.

As disgusting as that sounds, the so-called pranksters have so much fun that they film themselves doing it and spread the disgusting spectacle on social media. The Ableck videos are now attracting millions of hits on TikTok and Twitter. You can find them under the hashtag “Sushi tero”, which roughly translates to “sushi terrorism”.

A one-minute video has been viewed almost 100 million times, in which a boy can be seen alternately sticking his tongue in a sushi roll and then in a bowl. The food the boy touches runs down a conveyor belt before it gets to the unsuspecting guest. The fact that this type of viral joke is so successful in Japan may have something to do with the Asian island state’s restrictive ideas on hygiene and decency – a revolt against too much cleanliness. That the Japanese have a penchant for cleaning was proven again at the last soccer World Cup in Qatar, when the Japanese fans cleaned up the entire stadium after beating Germany.

Often, these sushi pranks happen at chain restaurants, which are usually cheap and frequented by Japanese families. This week, the Sushiro chain announced legal action against one of the “sushi lickers”.

In the offending video, a boy can be seen licking his fingers and then touching other guests’ food. The teenager, whose exact age was not disclosed, and his parents have apologized to the company. However, Sushiro maintained his stance, claiming the incident posed a threat to the chain’s good image and also had economic consequences for the company. The share value would have lost five percent after the viral videos, almost 125 million dollars, as reported by the Japanese television station Asahi.