The Late Movies: A Sushi's-Eye View


Kaiten-zushi is better known in the US as "conveyer-belt sushi" or a "sushi train." Sushi is placed on small plates, and the plates on a conveyer belt that runs around the restaurant. Patrons sit at a bar or in booths along the belt's path, picking off plates as they go by. Plates are generally priced according to a color scheme (at my local joint, light green is $1, orange is $1.50, then there's the dreaded and rare dark blue at $3!). At the end of the meal, plates are totaled up to calculate a bill. It's a fun way to eat sushi on a budget -- and a great way to overload your brain by dully staring at zillions of sushi plates constantly going by.

Tonight, we look not at the sushi as it goes by; we look at the people, from the sushi's perspective, as cameras sit on the conveyer belt. Watch as restaurant patrons interact with the camera, ignore it, move it, and ultimately a helpful restaurant worker removes it from the line. I wrote about a similar video in 2009 (video on that page is now dead), including a description of the Plate Champion competition in Portland, Oregon. Spoiler alert: I am still not a Plate Champion.

Osaka, Japan

Helpful patrons reorient the camera as it travels. Sushi winner: the kid at 2:11, who is mystified by the camera.

Kawasaki, Tokyo

A serene trip around the restaurant. Sushi winners: the nice older couple at the beginning, who calmly watch the camera, as if posing for a portrait.

Shibuya, Tokyo

This one goes off the rails in the middle, as a kitchen staffer removes the camera. Fortunately for us he puts it back and it proceeds. Looks to me like he's seen this happen before. That makes him, according to my arbitrary rules, sushi loser in this video. Sorry, dude.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Mute the annoying music and enjoy the lonely perspective of the mostly-empty conveyer belt in a mostly-empty restaurant. Sushi winners: the girls around 2:44 who block the camera, clearly not seeking YouTube fame.

Daegu, Korea

Only three minutes of this is actual camera movement, but it's quite nice. Sushi winners: the couple around 2:40 who are playing with each others' faces until they see the camera and act all innocent.

Unspecified Location

It's not clear where this is from. If this is your location sushi joint, speak up! Sushi winner: the man at 0:45 who smiles and waves. Cute.

Unspecified Location #2

Slightly annoying music; looks like a US place to me (at one point a sign reading "All Sushi $3.00" is visible). Sushi winners: the brigade, visible starting around 3:15, making the sushi.

Understanding Kaiten-zushi

A view from the patron's perspective, explaining the process and some typical dishes. You may also benefit from the transcript (below the video on the YouTube page).