'Terrace House' Is Back, So We Asked Japanese People What They Really Think of the Reality Show

Is there really ‘no script at all?’
Koh Ewe
japanese, terrace house, reality tv
Image from Netflix. 

Terrace House is for reality TV what chicken soup is for the soul. For those unfamiliar with the Netflix series, it basically has strangers stay in a house together, live their lives, and maybe find love. A panel of presenters and comedians pop up a couple of times in each episode and react to what's happening, much like how viewers would in their homes. Unlike other shows of its kind, though, Terrace House is filled with pleasantries, seemingly genuine human interaction, and all around wholesomeness.


The latest season, Terrace House: Tokyo 2019–2020 had to stop filming in April because of the coronavirus but is now back on Netflix Japan.

Much has been said about Japan’s answer to drama-filled reality shows like Big Brother and The Real World. People are drawn to its honest portrayal of mundanity, the relatable awkwardness that plays out among members, and the heavy subtext beneath seemingly cordial interactions. There are podcasts and Facebook groups dedicated to the show and international audiences just can’t get enough.

Fans around the world love that it’s a look into Japanese culture, but what do Japanese people actually think? VICE spoke to some of our readers to find out.

Mina, 31

I follow Terrace House and like the Karuizawa season (Terrace House: Opening New Doors) the most because it showed everyone's personality well. There was a troublemaker who disturbed the harmony in the house. If there was no one like this on the show, it would feel like something’s missing.

I'll continue to watch Terrace House because it's a great way to learn about communication, like how relationships and friendships are destroyed by love, and how men and women see things differently. Personally, I find it more interesting when there are people in their late 20s to early 30s than when there are many teens or people in their early 20s.

Aronzo, 32

There is definitely a script. I feel that they only gather once a week to shoot. It’s a fake, pursued "reality."


I also feel that the production team thinks it's all good as long as it looks real, and that they're not trying to trick people. It is the same as our Prime Minister and Assembly Members. In some ways, it is telling of Japanese culture and reality.

June, 22

I think most of the members in both past and recent seasons belong to a talent agency. Most of them also probably have a great background or are from a rich family. I don't really sympathise when they talk about their past. I can sympathise more with the members who are struggling with their jobs, like Kai Kobayashi in the latest season. It’s not that I only want to watch people who are struggling, but I feel disappointed when I compare members’ gorgeous lives with mine.

Tomoki, 27

I think the current season is more real than before, but I think there was more communication between members in terms of friendship (not only love) in the past seasons.

I think it's an accurate portrayal of Japanese culture. They show the areas where we go on dates and the music we listen to. Japanese hip-hop is played often.

Jihee, 35

I think it's very interesting to be able to see people's lives in a way that's close to real life. However, since it was made available online, the show got crazier. They don't show much deep human relationships anymore. I feel sad because I don’t feel like cheering for the members as much as I did before. But, well, I'll continue to watch it.

Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.