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Japan: Japanese Pizza Culture (Pizza-LA)

The Japanese love pizza! Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Japan embraces everything Western but at the same time, they put their own unique twist to it.

Everything from Italian-style marguerite pizzas served at high-end Italian restaurants to the ever popular delivery pizza, pizza is very easy to find in Japan. Pizza chains such as Pizza Hut and Dominos are very prevalent and Japan’s own Pizza-La (ピザー) (http://www.pizza-la.co.jp/)just happens to be the highest-grossing pizza chain in Japan. Franchises of the chain are located in 34 of Japan’s 47 prefectures. The company has its headquarters in the Zenkaren Building in southern Aoyama, Minato Ward, Tokyo.

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So what makes Pizza-La so popular? The company’s slogan is “All the taste and toppings you want on a pizza, straight from our oven to your door!” Literally, within 30 minutes of placing your order, either over the phone or online, your pizza will be delivered on time, piping hot in an insulated case on the back of the scooter. Delivery is handled by a young, mostly-male team of delivery staff, who speed around their store’s designated territory on company scooters as most young Japanese do not own their own vehicles.

Pizza-LA Scooters Parked Outside the Restaurant

Pizza-LA Scooters Parked Outside the Restaurant

Speaking of toppings, while Americans like pepperoni, sausage and veggies on their pizza, the Japanese take topping pizzas to a whole new level of creative. Japanese pizza offers a variety of different combinations and ingredients that would not be common if even conceivable elsewhere. Mayonnaise, corn, sea weed, asparagus, eggplant, crab, shrimp and the list goes on and on. (English Menu: http://www.pizza-la.co.jp/SC_EnglishMenu.aspx)

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Further, pizza in Japan is very expensive by western standards. A medium pizza typically runs 2000 to 2500¥ ($22-27 USD), a large pizza will cost 2900-3600¥ and up. But unlike in the U.S., you do not tip the delivery person.

Pizza-La is only a take-out/ delivery “ pizzaya.” Inside, there’s no room to sit down; you merely have enough room to stand and pay for your order. The restaurant is plainly a pizza factory in the very literal sense of the word, with each pizza produced with precision, perfectly round, evenly cut into eight slices, the edges of the pizza formed specifically to prevent the toppings from rolling off, etc. Yes, the Japanese painstakingly pay strict attention to even the minutest of details. American and other foreign restaurant chains have to adapt to this very strict market in order to survive.

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The company also has a quirky mascot called Pizza-La-Kun. The trend toward “kawaii”/ cute and mascots is still going strong in Japan. The company’s commercials are just as quirky but so very Japanese:

So the next time you are in Japan, splurge and live a little. Order delivery pizza from Pizza-LA and try some daring toppings that you would not normally find at home. Travel all the way to Japan to eat pizza you say? Why not? Japanese pizza is just as unique as sushi, tako yaki, ramen or any other traditional dish you would associate with this wonderfully mysterious country!

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