Debate divides Japan when storms hit and stomachs rumble.

Every time there’s a typhoon in Japan, it’s accompanied by a debate on social media. The topic: whether or not it’s OK to order a pizza and have it delivered during a typhoon.

On one side of the debate are those who think it’s totally acceptable to get a pizza delivered during a typhoon. The whole point of getting food delivered is because it’s unpleasant or impractical to go get it yourself, and pizza places probably aren’t seeing a lot of eat-in or pick-up customers on typhoon days, so extra delivery seem like they’d be a welcome form of economic support. On the other hand, some argue that it’s too dangerous to be sending deliverypeople out in a typhoon, and that subjecting them to those risks by making a delivery order is insensitive.

Complicating things is the fact that that Japan experiences several typhoons a year, which can range from feeling simply like storms with stronger than normal winds all the way up to natural disaster-level meteorological events. The same typhoon can also hit different parts of Japan at different strengths as it moves across the country.

During last weekend’s typhoon all of these considerations were rattling in our heads while our stomachs were rumbling. So we picked up the phone and called Japan’s big three pizza chains, Pizza-La, Pizza Hut, and Domino’s Pizza, not to place a delivery order but to ask if it’s OK to place a pizza delivery order during a typhoon. Here’s what they told us.

● Pizza-La

“Our first priority is the safety of our workers. However, we do not have a blanket policy of shutting down all of our branches every time there is a typhoon. The judgement of whether or not a branch can remain open, and whether or not they can safely offer delivery, is made not by our corporate office, but by the branches themselves.

Because of that, there may be times when a customer wants to place an order but the branch will inform them that their food cannot be safely delivered, but if delivery orders are being taken, that is th result of the branch judging that conditions are safe for the delivery staff. So while they may not be able to accommodate you, it’s fine to call your local branch and ask if they’re still offering delivery.”

● Pizza Hut

“During a typhoon, our policy is for our branches to make employee safety their highest priority. In accordance with that, branches have the authority to suspend operations and delivery service by their own judgement, and so if a branch is offering delivery, it is OK to place a delivery order.

In [last weekends’] especially powerful typhoon, for example, the majority of our branches in west Japan suspended delivery service. Some continued to allow pick-up orders, but the priority is worker safety, including their ability to return home safely, and when necessary branches will close entirely during typhoons.”

● Domino’s Pizza

“Our first priority is the safety of our delivery staff. Each branch, after checking local weather warnings and conditions, makes its decision as to whether or not it can safely complete delivery orders.

However, in the case of powerful typhoons like [last weekend’s], our head office may make recommendations ahead of time that branches shorten their operating hours. Our of our 70 branches in the Kyushu area, around 60 of them shortened their hours or shut down entirely during [last weekend’s] typhoon.”

Thankfully none of the big three have a “Keep delivering those pizzas, no matter how dangerous the weather is!” policy, and they all allow individual branches, who best know what the current conditions are, to be the ones to suspend delivery service. And again, while the word “typhoon” can definitely sound scary if you didn’t grow up in a part of the world where they’re a regular occurrence, there really is a wide range of possible storm strengths within the designation. The mentions of Kyushu and west Japan in the responses, for example, are in light of the fact that most typhoons that happen in Japan come up from the southwest of the country and weaken as they blow east, which is why Tokyo generally experiences very little typhoon damage.

As for the question of whether or not it’s OK to order delivery pizza in a typhoon, from a safety standpoint at least, it’s reassuring to know that any restaurant that’s still offering delivery is only doing so if they think it’s safe enough to do so, and there haven’t been any reports of accidents spiking among delivery drivers during typhoons, so it seems like those judgements are pretty sound. Still, with most pizza deliverypeople in Japan using scooters to get about, whoever brings you a typhoon pizza is probably going to get pretty wet in the process, so be sure to give them a nice, sincere “Thank you” for letting you stay dry and get full, should you decide to ask for delivery.

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