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Sushi chain store in Osaka introduces self-checkout service to reduce risk of infection

Customers make payments by using a touchless display that senses the movements of their fingers at Kura Sushi Inc.'s Nanba Nipponbashi branch in Osaka's Chuo Ward, which recently introduced a self-checkout service, on Oct. 16, 2020. (Mainichi/Kenji Konoha)

OSAKA -- Major sushi chain Kura Sushi Inc.'s Nanba Nipponbashi store in this western Japan city launched a service on Oct. 16 allowing customers to visit without ever having to directly interact with an employee as part of coronavirus prevention measures.

    The store in Osaka's Chuo Ward is the second store to introduce the service following the Ikebukuro Sunshine 60 street branch in Tokyo's Toshima Ward, and aims to reduce the risk of infection for both customers and employees. Kura Sushi plans to introduce the service at all of its 462 stores by the end of 2021.

    Up until now, the chain's stores in Nanba and Ikebukuro both allowed customers to order and confirm the number of plates they've eaten by using displays at the stores or their own smartphones. The only time they would come face to face with an employee was when making the payment, but a self-checkout service was introduced at the branch in Ikebukuro on Oct. 13 and at Nanba on Oct. 16 -- making it possible for customers to avoid direct contact with staffers during their entire stay at the sushi shops.

    As some customers have voiced their discontent with using a display that others have also touched, due to concern about infections, Kura Sushi will also introduce a touchless display that senses the movements of the fingers in midair at its outlets nationwide. The company aims to implement the touchless system at all its stores by the end of 2021.

    Kura Sushi will still secure a minimum number of employees needed for preparing meals and cleaning. It also plans to allocate the labor it was able to save by introducing the services to efforts to improve other in-store services, such as responding to customers when they accidentally spill their food or drinks.

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