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Shiraishi-san was the man who invented the popular "Kaiten Zushi" method of displaying and selling sushi on conveyor belts.

His inspiration for the innovative idea was seeing beer bottles moving through a production line in a brewery in the 1950s.

Trained as a sushi chef, Shiraishi-san opened the world's first kaiten zushi-ya in suburban industrial Higashi-Osaka in the southern Japanese city of Osaka in the year 1958. His customers, workers at local factories, appreciated the fast service and cost savings of some thirty percent due to the economies possible with his innovation. The original restaurant, named Genroku-zushi, could serve only ten customers at a time, all standing at the counter while the sushi morsels rotated past them.

Shiraishi-san died aged 87 on 31st of August, 2001, due to liver failure, in an Osaka hospital. At the time of his death, he was Chairman of the Genroku Sangyo Company, a firm which manufactures the food conveying equipment and runs a chain of hundreds of kaiten zushi restaurants. At the time of writing, Japan had over 5200 such restaurants.

RESEARCH SOURCES: ASSOCIATED PRESS, NIPPONIA, SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, BOSTON.COM