Japan Diners Arrested Over Chopstick Prank

When treating yourself to a meal away from home, you trust that the restaurant you are going to follows a certain level of cleanliness and food safety to ensure you enjoy a delicious and germ-free dining experience. However, what if the establishment is doing everything it can to follow the strict food service guidelines, but the customers are ruining the integrity of the food and possibly making it unhealthy for everyone else who visits?

This is the case for two patrons of the popular foreign fast food chain Yoshinoya restaurant in Osaka, Japan, who took a prank a little too far, the results of which had them arrested. Toshihide Oka and Ryu Shimazu were both charged with "obstruction of business" after they filmed themselves eating pickled ginger right from the communal container using their chopsticks, according to The Guardian. Video footage shows one man, allegedly Shimazu, scooping the ginger with his chopsticks right from the container into his mouth, then going back for more. With his lips touching the container and some food items falling from his mouth back into the communal condiment, this unsanitary act is just one incident in a string of what is being called "sushi terrorism." This wave of disgusting acts has seen videos of a patron licking tea cups and drinking from communal soy sauce bottles at conveyor-belt sushi restaurants, much to the chagrin of other customers and staff of these establishments, according to The New York Times.

What is happening to stop this wave of unhygienic customers?

In an attempt to curb this behavior, authorities in Japan are taking serious measures to arrest and charge these individuals. As well as being accused of obstruction of business, Toshihide Oka and Ryu Shimazu have been accused of destroying property when they carried through their prank by contaminating the communal ginger, per CNN. Oka explained to the police, "I wanted to make people laugh. I asked [Shimazu] to do something funny, and he suddenly ate it." However, this joke obviously fell short as it's a violation against the other customers by putting them at risk. Plus, it affected the overall respect for cleanliness within the business itself. Not to mention that the accused could face criminal charges with a maximum prison sentence of three years.

These unhygienic actions could be seen as a slap in the face as Japan prides itself on cleanliness and respect. The problem also comes at a crucial time post-pandemic when folks are still rightfully concerned about catching illnesses, especially when eating in groups. Even at American all-you-can-eat buffets, patrons should watch how management handles the food and ensures items are kept at the right temperature; it's also crucial to observe how other guests take food from serving trays. Grabbing food with bare hands and using serving ladles for multiple dishes increases the chances of cross-contamination and can be a sure way to get ill (via Insider).