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Visiting Conveyor Belt Restaurants in Japan

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From okonomiyaki to dango, Japan is a country full of delicious food. There’s something new to be found around every corner, with street food stalls full of karaage and charming character restaurants. But, one thing that a lot of Japanese people seem to love is convenience. There are convenience stores everywhere, cafés that you can quickly nip into and out of and even conveyor belt restaurants.

You heard me right, conveyor belt restaurants. If you’ve never had your food brought to you on a conveyor belt, you haven’t lived. Generally speaking, these kaiten-zushi (rotation-sushi) restaurants can now be found around the world, but they’re incredibly popular in Japan.

Different Types of Conveyor Belt Restaurants

In my experience, there are plenty of different types of conveyor belt sushi restaurants, but there are two primary ones that you should be aware of. In each, you order your food in a slightly different way.


Menu Ordering


There are some kaiten-zushi restaurants where you will be given a menu to order from. When the chef has prepared your order, they will place it onto the conveyor belt and there will be something that tells you when it’s your order coming around. Usually, this is a little sound. When you’re far away from the chef, you might have to raise your hand and say “sumimasen” to get the attention of a server.


Tablet Ordering


My personal favourite conveyor belt restaurants are the ones that involve ordering with a touchscreen. Who doesn’t love pressing a button and being able to select the food that they want? I know that I do. Some of these do have English menus, but if you don’t speak Japanese there will always be photos in the ones that don’t have English menus. Sometimes guessing can be a really fun way of trying new things!


The Joys of Conveyor Belt Restaurants


There are plenty of things that make Japanese conveyor belt restaurants the perfect dining option, but some of them certainly shine brighter than others. Some of my favourite things about Japanese conveyor belt restaurants include:


The Convenience


After a long day of exploring cities like Kyoto, there’s nothing better than a really convenient meal. In my favourite kaiten-zushi restaurants, you can sit down, choose what you want to eat on a tablet and then wait for the conveyor belt to bring you your food.


Usually, you can order several dishes and drinks at a time, but your drink will probably be brought to you by a server. Having drinks brought to you on a conveyor belt could be an absolute disaster.


The Opportunity to Experiment


Whenever I go to a conveyor belt sushi restaurant in Japan, I always find myself trying something new. When I first moved to Japan, everything seemed a little bit mysterious. Now I’ll happily sit and eat grilled eel like it’s nothing at all.


You might be surprised to see a few options that you recognise on the conveyor belt sushi restaurant menus too. I’ve eaten more tuna mayonnaise sushi than I care to disclose, as well as corn mayonnaise sushi…although that one might not be as common outside of Japan.


A lot of conveyor belt sushi restaurants serve more than just sushi too. In my favourite conveyor belt restaurant, you can enjoy cheap udon noodles, karaage and even pudding. All of this can be washed down with green tea or Calpis.




Something that often surprises my friends who visit from outside of Japan is just how affordable sushi in Japan can be. In a lot of chain conveyor belt restaurants, you pay by the plate and it can be really cheap. Sometimes you pile your plates up to be counted, sometimes you deposit them into little boxes on the side of your table

My Favourite Conveyor Belt Restaurants


No matter where you are in Japan, there are plenty of amazing conveyor belt restaurants to choose from. Some of my favourites include:


  1. Sushiro


Whenever I’m looking for a really affordable meal, I always head straight to Sushiro. This chain restaurant can be found in cities and towns across Japan and it can get pretty busy. There is a way to reserve a time in advance using an app, but I would recommend just using the touchscreen in Sushiro to get a queue number if you don’t speak Japanese.


In Sushiro, you can usually sit in a booth or at a table on a stool. No matter where you are, there will always be a touchscreen right in front of you. You don’t have to share this, it’s yours for the duration of your meal!


Once you’ve selected what you want to eat, you just have to wait for a small tune to play and you know that your food is on the way. Each table has a colour that will be displayed under your plate. You might notice that there are also plates of sushi going around without these, meaning that you can take any of them! If something looks good, don’t be afraid of trying it.


  1. Hamazushi


Coming in just as affordably as Sushiro, Hamazushi is another one of my favourite conveyor belt sushi restaurants. This one has hundreds of outlets in Japan, meaning that you can almost guarantee that there will be one somewhere nearby.


Just like in Sushiro, you have a touchscreen and order the sushi that you want, letting your plates pile up alongside you. Weirdly enough, the menu here even includes chocolate cake!


  1. Kappazushi


I’ll be the first to admit that there’s a good chance that I love Kappazushi because of their mascots. Their kappa are called Ka-kun and Pakko-chan. Have you ever heard of anything so cute?


I usually like to venture into Kappazushi for their menu. Usually they have some fun seasonal items around Halloween and Christmas, as well as some that pop up because of collaborations.

Eating in Conveyor Belt Restaurants

As you can see, eating in conveyor belt restaurants is affordable, quick and fun. If you’re not too comfortable using Japanese, I would highly recommend going into one that you know offers a touchscreen. Sushiro in particular has a really good English menu, accessed by just clicking a button in the corner.

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