The Ultimate Guide to the Best $1 Sushi Shops in Japan: A Local’s Perspective

by Daisuke Sasaki
Four dark red and seven yellow plates of sushi from Sushiro, one of the best conveyor belt sushi shops to eat cheap $1 sushi in Japan

As a Japanese local living in Japan, I have always been asked if I eat sushi every day – and of course, together with that question is how cheap or expensive sushi is in Japan. 

Without a doubt, my unforgettable sushi experiences are from the wealthiest neighborhoods in Tokyo, such as Ginza, Tokyo’s luxury district

But as a local, I also frequently eat at $1 sushi spots (hint: at conveyor belt sushi spots!)

This guide covers Japan’s best conveyor belt sushi chain restaurants where you can eat delicious sushi for $1. These sushi chains are loved by local Japanese. Each section discusses the company’s annual sales and motto and includes my personal experience.

Note: At the time of publication, the Japanese yen is becoming quite weak compared to most major currencies like USD and EUR, so 1 sushi plate can cost less than $1 USD.  

*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you click on them and make a purchase, we receive a small commission. There is no additional cost to you. Appreciate the support.

What is Kaiten-Zushi?

Kaiten-zushi is the Japanese way of saying $1 sushi shops. 

These restaurants deliver sushi to your table by a conveyor belt, which is why kaiten-zushi is also known as conveyor belt sushi. 

This type of sushi dining stands out for its unique combination of fun, affordability, and variety. It’s a great way for family and friends to eat sushi on a budget

How Does Kaiten-Zushi Work?

Upon entering a kaiten-zushi restaurant, you’ll be greeted by a “very Japanese” sight – a conveyor belt winding around the restaurant and carrying colorful plates of freshly prepared sushi. 

When eating at a kaiten-zushi, you can simply pick your desired plates of sushi when they pass by

Or, you can order from a tablet, which is described more in detail below. 

Here are some things to know about kaiten-zushi: 

Interactive Ordering By Tablet

While the conveyor belt offers a plethora of choices, if you’re craving something specific that is not on the belt, don’t worry!

Many kaiten-zushi restaurants are equipped with touch-screen ordering systems via a tablet. 

Change the language settings to English, and then start browsing the digital menu and place your order. 

A tablet showing the menu options such as specials, nigiri, rolls, noodles, side dishes, and more in English

Each table has a tablet where you can order sushi and have it delivered directly to your seat. Photo credit: The Luxury Japan

You’ll only need to wait a few minutes for your sushi. 

Watch as your sushi is delivered directly to your table via the conveyor belt or sometimes even on special express lanes or mini bullet trains (shinkansen).

A red sushi plate getting delivered on a special conveyor belt at Sushiro restaurant

Special delivery for the sushi. Photo credit: The Luxury Japan

Varieties of Sushi

Kaiten-zushi restaurants often boast an extensive menu, ranging from classic sushi staples like tuna and salmon to more adventurous options like sea urchin and eel. 

In Japan, many establishments also offer seasonal specialties. 

For example, when I visited Sushiro they had a seasonal specialty on uni (sea urchin). It’s my personal favorite! It was a great deal at 430 Japanese yen, which is extremely cheap compared to a usual sea urchin sushi.

A hand holding a tablet with a view of the limited edition specials for the day - blue fin tuna set and crab topped roll with sea urchin and fish eggs

Check out the limited edition section for seasonal or special items for the day. Photo credit: The Luxury Japan

Color-Coded Plate System

One of the most distinctive features of kaiten-zushi is its color-coded plate system. Each color corresponds to a specific price.

For instance, a blue plate might cost ¥100, while a gold plate could cost ¥500. Usually, a black plate is the most expensive one, but that depends on the shop. 

Also, the system knows how many colored-plated items you’ve ordered. 

At Sushiro, one of the most popular conveyor belt sushi places in Japan, the bill shows the number of plates by color and the total cost. The bill is available in both English and Japanese. 

A stack of plates in front of a tablet showing the final cost of the sushi eaten at Sushiro

Since the cheap is affordable and delicious, you will eat many plates of sushi. Photo credit: The Luxury Japan

Another way to verify the number of plates you’ve ordered is by counting. I notice budget-conscious high-school students counting their plates once they’ve finished eating.

The Best Conveyor Belt Sushi Chains in Tokyo for Cheap Sushi at $1

In Tokyo, the sushi scene is vast and varied, yet kaiten-zushi/ conveyor belt sushi is still a popular choice. In fact, conveyor belt sushi shops are a billion-dollar business in Japan. 

Here are the top 3 kaiten-zushi chains in Tokyo based on sales and my personal experiences.

Note: You can find these sushi chains in many cities across Japan.

1. Sushiro (スシロー) – My Personal Recommendation 


2,179 billion yen (as of September 2022 – based on the company’s latest financial statement)


Sushiro is the largest conveyor belt sushi chain in Japan. Established in 1984 in Shizuoka Prefecture, it now boasts around 650 branches. 

Known for offering delicious sushi at reasonable prices, Sushiro’s extensive menu includes not just sushi but also ramen, udon, and various fried dishes. 

A Sushiro sign in Japanese directing people to enter and sharing that the sushi starts at 130 yen

Here is a Sushiro sign and the starting price of sushi at 130 yen. Photo credit: The Luxury Japan

Why It’s Popular

Sushiro is lauded for its high-quality sushi toppings and overall balance in taste

It’s my personal go-to sushi because of the accessibility of their shops from large crowded cities to smaller provinces. 

The side menu and desserts are also comprehensive. Try the matcha parfait if you see it on the dessert menu.

Six yellow plates and 1 dark red plate of sushi at Sushiro, a conveyor belt sushi restaurant

Sushiro is an affordable place to eat sushi in Japan. Photo credit: Life Of Doing

Unique Features

They often have limited-time campaigns such as “Ootoro Festival,” or Fatty Tuna Festival. Ootoro is my favorite sushi as the fatty tuna melts in your mouth!

When I ate at Sushiro recently, they had a collaboration with an anime that made Japanese kids very happy.

Even as a local, I do not get tired of Sushiro’s menus as they frequently run popular campaigns and events, with content changing every few weeks to keep the dining experience fresh and exciting.

2. Kura Sushi (くら寿司)


1,831 billion yen (as of October 2022)


Founded in 1977 in Sakai City, Osaka, Kura Sushi now operates around 570 branches. 

They introduced the “Antibacterial Sushi Cover Freshness-kun” to protect sushi from dust and other dirt particles.

Two plates of sushi on the conveyor belt at Kura Sushi and a tablet for ordering sushi

Photo credit: The Luxury Japan

Why It’s Popular

Kura Sushi is known for its additive-free sushi, which is loved by Japanese parents.

Seven plates of sushi at Kura Sushi, a recommended place to eat conveyor belt sushi in Japan

Kura Sushi is recommended to eat cheap sushi at a conveyor belt sushi shop. Photo credit: Life Of Doing

Personally, although Sushiro is my go-to sushi place, I feel “healthier” when eating at Kura Sushi because of this feature. 

The sushi comes with lids ensuring hygiene and freshness. 

They also have an extensive side menu like ice creams and udon (Japanese noodles) that travelers to Japan would love.

A tablet for ordering sushi and other food at Kura Sushi, a conveyor belt sushi place in Japan

Photo credit: The Luxury Japan

Unique Features

They have a game called Bikkura Pon which is popular among Japanese children – even some of my cousins. 

The more you eat, the more chances you have to win prizes. 

Once you’ve finished eating, the plates can be placed in a slot at the table. This is to prevent clutter and also play games to earn prizes. 

They also frequently collaborate with popular characters, making it a hit among kids here in Japan.

3. Hama Sushi (はま寿司)


1,300 billion yen (as of March 2022)


Part of the Zensho Group, which also operates Sukiya, the beef bowl restaurant chain, Hama Sushi is known for its slightly cheaper price range compared to Sushiro and Kura Sushi.

Why It’s Popular

Hama Sushi is loved for its fresh fish and variety of soy sauces allowing customers to enjoy sushi in different flavors.

Unique Features

They offer five types of soy sauces, each brewed by the long-established soy sauce maker, Sanbishi. 

These special sauces include special dashi soy sauce, Kanto-style thick soy sauce, Hokkaido kelp soy sauce, Kyushu-style sashimi soy sauce, and Shikoku-style yuzu ponzu. 

They also have a unique drive-through service for takeout orders.

Additional Tips When Visiting $1 Sushi Shops

Best Time to Visit

If you want to avoid crowds, consider visiting sushi restaurants during off-peak hours, typically between 3:00pm to 5:00pm. 

Note that when you come during lunchtime or dinner (6:00pm and onwards), the conveyor belt sushi restaurants tend to be very crowded. 

Even in my parents’ neighborhood, we would sometimes wait for 30 minutes to 1 hour to get a seat during peak times.

Sushi Etiquette

When eating sushi, it’s customary to eat the sushi in one bite. If you’re using soy sauce, dip the fish side, not the rice side, to avoid soaking the rice.

Seasonal Delights

Sushi toppings change with the seasons. For instance, in spring, you might find sakura shrimp, while in autumn might offer sanma (pacific saury). 

The season-limited sushi is usually featured on the tablets. 

Last Tip & Actually Trivia!

Did you know that wasabi, the green paste often served with sushi, is not just for spice?

In fact, in Japan, wasabi is seen also as a spice that has antibacterial properties and is traditionally used to prevent food poisoning.

Final Thoughts

One dollar sushi shops, or kaiten-zushi shops are must-visits when coming to Japan where you will experience both the traditional and contemporary Japanese dining culture. 

Sushiro, Kura Sushi, and Hama Sushi are the top 3 most popular $1 sushi shops in Japan. 

Not only do these conveyor belt sushi shops show innovation – seen in their interactive ordering systems and seasonal offerings – but they also provide an affordable yet authentic sushi experience. 

Whether you’re a budget traveler looking for a bite, a curious local keen to explore the tastes of your homeland, or simply someone with an insatiable love for sushi, these conveyor belt sushi joints are a must-visit. 

When you come to Japan, please remember to immerse yourself in the local etiquette, enjoy the diverse flavors each season brings, and never underestimate the power of wasabi. 

Interested in reading more food posts? Read more below: 

Like this post? Save it to your Japan Pinterest board.

Yellow and dark red plates of sushi at Sushiro, a conveyor belt sushi restaurant known for cheap $1 sushi in Japan

You may also like

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. Please accept or opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More

Privacy & Cookies Policy