I want to talk about something that is near and dear to my heart. Japanese Pizza. It’s essential for parties. It soothes your soul after a long, stressful week at work. It doesn’t judge you and is a good listener. Oh yeah, it also (usually) tastes good.
Today I want to talk about Japanese pizza and how it differs from the way people see pizza in the US. Follow along with me as I use this post as a great excuse to talk about pizza.
First off, Japanese pizza is more expensive than in the US. No one seems to get excited about eating pizza or ordering it. At least not as much as me, anyway. All of my
Japanese friends think I’m crazy. Well you know what, I am crazy. Crazy for pizza.
In Japan, having a pizza delivered to your house is a rare event to be saved for something like birthdays or the occasion that you need food fast for (young) guests because you have no time to cook something. House parties are not as popular in Japan as they are in the US, so the idea that hanging out with friends=eating pizza is not something to expect.
Questions about Japanese pizza
I hear Japanese pizza is expensive, is that true?
Yes, it’s totally true and it breaks my heart. The price of a medium in Japan would be the same as ordering a Large or more in the US.
Does Japanese pizza have weird stuff on it like octopus?
If you order a Japanese-style pizza, yes. It has things like shrimp, octopus, and mayonaise. However, you don’t have to order Japanese style. All pizza places usually have tomato sauce based pizzas that do not have seafood or other odd toppings.
Do you have to tip pizza delivery people?
No, you don’t. Everything is included in the total price of the order.
Is it easy to order Japanese pizza?
Yes! It’s become easier in recent years due to smartphones. You can use the company’s website or the app.
Does [Name of Pizza store] support ordering in English?
If ordering by phone, you’re going to probably struggle because most workers don’t speak English. If you go to the company’s website, there is usually an “English menu” or “English site” option. However, I wouldn’t rely on those too much. There are lots of special deals and things that can only be seen on the Japanese versions of the menu/website.
I don’t speak or understand Japanese, can I still get pizza delivered?
Of course! Get someone that understands Japanese to help set you up an account on your favorite pizza chain’s website so that you can easily order any time!
Pizza Stores in Japan
There are too many chains for me to go over, so I’m going to talk about only three major pizza stores that have branches in most areas of Japan.
What’s with the name? Yeah, I know, the name is strange and doesn’t really help you get into a pizza mood, does it? The pizza is not bad, but nothing was really tasty enough for me to consider ordering from here again. If this is the only chain near you, then it’s livable, but I can’t recommend this store for serious pizzanauts.
My recommended pizza:
The smoked salmon and Camembert cheese pizza is a bit unique and might be interesting for those that want to try something different but not to the extreme of eating mayonnaise seafood pizza.
This is probably the most well-known pizza chain that is NOT Pizza Hut. Pizza-la is a Japanese pizza chain that emphasizes ingredients and freshness. The prices are a bit expensive, but there are many opportunities to get a free side with your order. I often ordered a pizza and got free stuff such as hash potato sticks or chicken nuggets. There’s definitely a soft spot in my heart for Pizza-la, but compared to other places, I think the prices are higher.
One thing that is interesting about Pizza-la’s website is it has…”helpful” icons next to different items on the menu. For example, next to the Margherita Pizza is a pink icon that states “popular with women”. Um, thanks? Is this really needed? Who is that intended for? Women at a loss for what to order? Is a guy somewhere stressing out because he has a date coming over and he doesn’t know what pizza she likes? (Just ask her, buddy)
Not important in relation to pizza, but I just thought it was funny.
My recommended pizza:
Pizza-la’s “Italiana” is a fantastic delight that is sure to win over everyone. (Or only you if you’re having a one-person pizza party.)
The menu is very different from the US Pizza Hut and prices are still expensive compared to the US. However, if you’re looking for deals, Pizza Hut has you covered. If you register on the Pizza Hut Japan website, you’ll be notified when there are deals or coupons available.
I’ve learned how to always make use of coupons when ordering from these guys. If you don’t have any coupons, just do a search in Japanese for “ピザハットクーポン” (pizza hut coupons) and you’re sure to find some.
You can usually get 500 to 1000 yen ($5-$10) off your order just for having a coupon or finding some online. The more you order through Pizza Hut, the more coupons and discounts you’ll receive. I think at one point I was a gold member for ordering more than once a month. (I had to take myself off the mailing list so that I wouldn’t be tempted too often by some of the deals)
My recommended pizza:
I have two recommendations if you’re ordering from Pizza Hut Japan. First, there is the Shrimp Avocado (left picture) which is simply amazing. If you would have told me before I came to Japan that I would like pizza with shrimp and avocado on top, I would have said, “Hey man, that sounds gross. …Hey, who are you and how the hell did you get in my living room?”
If that isn’t for you, I recommend the rich formaggi (right picture). It’s made with four different kinds of cheese and boy is it delicious. I recommend ordering a half & half pizza with at least this one because you won’t go wrong.
Another good point with Pizza Hut is there is a 「ハットの日」 or “Hut Day” where a limited menu is half-price if you order take out. When pizza is so expensive in Japan, you will usually see all the non-Japanese residents making a pilgrimage to their local pizza hut. It’s like a walk of shame because you’ll see people of different nationalities that you didn’t know lived in the local area. With one look, you’ll both know why fate has brought you together: cheaper than usual Japanese pizza.
Here’s the menu for “Hut Day”, you can see that the prices are cut in half.
Looking at a Pizza Flyer
Let’s take a look at a flyer from Pizza Hut Japan that showed up in my mailbox.
Pictured here is the cover. You can see that they are advertising their specials such as the “Crazy Pocket 4” which has 4 different kinds of pizza as well as weiners and cheese in the crust. Yeah, I guess that’s sort of crazy, so I’ll allow it. You may notice a price “1,700 yen” ($17) in the golden circle of trust there on the flyer. That is not the price of the Crazy Pocket 4, so don’t be fooled. It states “with use of coupons, delivery starts at 1,700 yen” I can promise you now that any specials usually can’t be discounted with coupons, which is a bummer.
The next item they are talking about is the “full” or hand tossed pizza crust and how it is a lot of volume for what you get.
It’s time to flip open this flyer and see what Pizza Hut Japan has in store for us. First is the summer special “Family 4” pizza that is 1,700 yen for a medium pizza.
Looking at the blue and red “special menu” items, we see you can order different pizza sets to get more pizza for a discount. There are also coupons at the bottom of the page so you can either cut them out and use them at a store OR enter the code online. See those numbers like “G349” or “G350”? Those are the coupon codes. Just enter them into your account online and they will be saved for the next time you want to order. That means you can throw away this flyer after you’ve saved the codes.
Ok, here is a bit more of the menu so if you’re not interested in the current specials, you can look at the standard options. Although before you can check out the menu, there is one more promotion at the top for the “Crazy Pocket 4”. You can pair that pizza with your choice of 2 soft drinks, gelato, 3 wings, or french fries. If you were to order, which would you choose?
Look at the Margherita pizza. It’s 3,390 yen (approx. $33) for a large margherita pizza. That’s just really hard for me to accept at that price.
Let’s see if we can make that price go lower. It’s not a special pizza, so that means we can apply a coupon to it. There are no general coupons in this flyer, which means I need to find coupons online to get a better deal.
If you do an Internet search for “ピザハットクーポン”, you’ll see some results with pages that have coupon codes. My recommendation is to find the 2chan post that has the latest coupon codes at the top.
On the page, I found a coupon that will take 1000 yen off of any order over 3000 yen. Bingo!
Update: I’ve started a separate article that posts Pizza Hut Japan coupon information!
Japanese Pizza -Final Thoughts
Well, I think that’s probably all anyone wanted to hear about Japanese pizza. It’s expensive, but it can be delicious and much cheaper if you know where to look. There are many more local pizza shops in different prefectures, but it is impossible to cover them all here.
Do you have a favorite pizza combination or pizza chain in Japan? Feel free to let me know in the comments because I’m lonely and have no one to talk about pizza with.