This post was originally published October 2018 and has been updated with new Terrace House members.
In this tumultuous and disgusting world, we need more nice and calming content. Terrace House, the Japanese reality show institution, is the perfect antidote to current events. In fact, it’s one of the least eventful shows on television. Three women and three men live together to find love and/or professional success. Terrace House is a show about personal growth, but also close-up shots of food. It’s like The Great British Baking Show if the contestants sometimes kissed. And if a Talking Dead-style after-show broke in occasionally to roast the contestants.
There have been four iterations of Terrace House, three of which are on Netflix. House members share some common characteristics. Most are some sort of model, at least part-time. Almost everyone is polite to a fault. And everyone wears whatever brand the show is promoting (Supreme in Boys and Girls in the City, 88 Tees in Aloha State, and Brew in Opening New Doors). The perfect Terrace House member would be a model-slash-something entirely improbable: astronaut, or maybe coroner. They would collaborate and cooperate with their housemates. They would be upfront about their feelings. They would always ask before kissing someone. Basically, they would be the opposite of every American reality star. Here’s how every house member from the Netflix series ranks as a cooperative and good-good boy or girl.
Wez is at the bottom because he was simultaneously boring and a shitty person. He led girls on, he gossiped, he was a mediocre rapper. Wez was an inert presence when he wasn’t slut-shaming, and he wrote a song about Instagram. Unforgivable.
There’s going to be a lot of Aloha State members in the bottom half of this list. It was an underwhelming series, partially because so many members were so American in their reality TV behavior. Cheri would be perfect on The Real World or even Are You The One? She instigated the one genuine fight I’ve ever seen on the show. She brings drama, makes grand pronouncements about cutting people out of her life, and sleeps around. These are all excellent TV character qualities. However, Terrace House is the TV equivalent of chicken soup: intentionally bland, yet healing. We’re looking for hard workers and earnest talkers.
What a perfect little shit. If Terrace House was literally any other type of show, Yuudai would be in the top tier of reality TV villains. Allergic to hard work, and so incapable of change that even his family seems completely over his shit, Yuudai was a hilariously bad fit on a show that’s about hard work and self improvement. We all know a Yuudai, who has big plans that go completely unfulfilled, and who pretends to be self-sufficient while really relying on daddy’s credit card. He was entertaining, but clearly only on the show to get Instagram sponsorships. Keep that lazy fame-hungry behavior on The Bachelorette, where it belongs.
Hikaru was mostly unobjectionable on the show. A little too smug about being hot, but that’s to be expected. He ranks low on this list, however, because he follows literally no one on Instagram. I don’t care how funny your occupation chyron is, you gotta follow some people!
If Terrace House was The Bachelor, Makoto would have gotten the first impression rose. A college baseball player, Makocchan was in the original six in B&GITC. All three female house members ranked him as their cutest and most datable. But then Makocchan revealed the most damning character flaw you can have on Terrace House: He was lazy. Makoto had quit baseball to party a year ago, and now he was applying himself so he could regain the trust of his team and his coach. Or so he said! But he was actually still just drinking every night and giving Minori mixed messages about how interested he was in dating her. You can be lazy or a fuckboy on TH; you can’t be both.
Some people leave no impression. They’re low on this list not for abhorrent behavior, but for making no impact at all. Mila designed wetsuits, I think?
Like, who even was this? Ryo came for maybe the last week of Aloha State. He was there more as a fact-finding mission for his employers back in Japan than to find love/self-actualization. He visited coffee stores. The coffee stores seemed nice.
In my notes, I refer to her as “the crying banker.” She was a banker. She cried when confronted. The End.
Does Soto think he’s funny? Or is he just tone deaf in all interactions? The two aren’t mutually exclusive, but this guy said he came to Terrace House to do demographic research for making apps. That would probably be easier to do watching the show, rather than being on it. Soto was a teen idol, who left the biz to get married and have a kid. Then he left the wife and kid to make apps? Anyway, one time he asked a girl out on a date by saying she had the “opportunity” to choose his new pair of glasses. An unjustifiably cocky man.
Naomi just couldn’t get anything going. No romance, and a boring hostess job. Naomi mainly hung out by the pool in Aloha State, and honestly who can blame her? It’s Hawaii. All of one’s time should be pool- or ocean-adjacent. Still made for boring TV.
I have no time for this shady personal trainer. The end of Opening New Doors was a wild ride, revealing secret behind-the-scenes dealings and clandestine couplings. Aio secretly planned his storyline with Risako, then secretly started banging “virginal” Yui. And he folded on both of them so fast. Aio was both a schemer and a narc. Both roles are important in Terrace House lore, but combining them just makes you look like a snake. Plus, he ate his boogers.
Eric was like a high school QB who never left town and maybe became an insurance salesman. Just an underwhelming bro. He spent months planning and constructing a coffee stand that, upon completion, looked like Lucy’s psychiatry stand from Peanuts.
A virgin who can’t drive or see when someone’s not interested. Plus he’s a ukulele player, so he’s got those creepy classical guitar fingernails. It’s not all Yusuke’s fault. When courting Lauren, Yusuke got lots of bad advice from Eric. But we didn’t need a “Nice Guy” on Terrace House.
Hayato is [spoiler alert] a huge creep. He and Rikopin pretended to have a chaste will-they-or-won’t-they relationship, but were secretly banging on the DL. Hayato said it was to protect Riko’s idol image, but I think it was at least partially because he didn’t want to look skeevy on TV for being 29 and screwing an 18-year-old.
Risako tried to work her storyline on TH, an unforgivable sin. Risako and Aio were going to pretend to date for a while, then Aio was going to ask to be bf/gf and she was going to refuse. But then Aio got bonered for Yui (why??) and left Risako hanging and looking like a fake bitch. Risako then had a cute-ish storyline with Masao, ultimately deciding not to date him either. Which is fine, but if you’re televised storyline went exactly the same as the fake one you, planned, why should I give a shit?
Anna is one of those girls whose whole identity is “traveler.” She’s more Instagram feed than person. What does she do for a living? Travel. What’s her favorite food? Whatever’s local to where’s she’s traveling. Favorite book? It’s a tie between Eat, Pray, Love (about travel) and The Time Traveler’s Wife (has travel in the name). What’s her favorite foul in basketball? Traveling!
Maya is…fine. She’s fine. She’s new on the show, so there’s still time to distinguish herself. But at the moment I’m left lukewarm. Maya said once, offhand, that she might be bisexual. It’s never been addressed again. If you want to rank, you gotta lean into your bisexual storyline!
Is Ami a boring opportunist, as the panelists seem to think? Or is she the victim of a very bad edit? Ami was the romantic object of Yuudai, Taka, and Shohei — none of whom interested her. The endless parade of awkward dates she went on were TV poison. She was also the BFF of perfect hockey queen Tsubasa. Apparently their friendship was one for the ages, yet we never saw it. Instead, we got scene after scene of her feeling uncomfortable as men threw themselves at her. Ami could toss out one-liners pretty well, but clammed up when dudes hit on her. If the show cared about friendship as much as dating, maybe she’d rank way higher.
Poor Mayu. Nobody, not even the panelists, can see past her breasts. Erotic model Mayu came to the show to find love. But her cutesy behavior keeps turning dudes off. It must suck to have internalized gender norms so much that you are actively annoying to be around.
At first I couldn’t stand Yui. The panel kept fawning over her in a way that seriously yucked me. Words used to describe Yui include “pure,” “innocent,” “untarnished,” aka a virgin. They were extremely hyped on her virginity and sheltered life. But then she started acting really fucking weird, and I got on board. She interrogated people in a way I can only describe as “Sam Waterston-esque.” But then it turned out that Yui had been scheming and pulling a Rikopin, pretending to be sexually inactive for her fans and then throwing people under the bus for being fake on camera. When she was the fakest of all! It got me heated, but she generated a lot of plot. Yui is a riddle we may never be able to solve.
Shohei would rank higher on this list were it not for the oddly coercive kisses he planted on Seina. His music is ridiculous, but more listenable than Wez, and he falls in love hilariously easily. And he is pretty down for a woman having agency over own appearance. His boyfriend-girlfriend proposal was cringe comedy of the highest order. But he put Seina in a headlock to kiss her. And he forced his housemates to listen to a goodbye concert when he left. In short, Shohei does a lot of stuff without getting others’ consent.
All stories rely on conflict, which is something Natsumi can definitely provide. A messy bitch that loved drama, Natsumi feuded with almost every woman she roomed with. She beefed with Minori about the true nature of love. She beefed with Misaki about her own drinking. That fight was so bad, they couldn’t even air it. And she tried to steal Han-san from his off-camera girlfriend. Natsumi is too much trouble for my sweet, placid show. She was compelling television, but I am here to see people exchange niceties over bowls of soba.
Arisa only came to the show to promote her brand of exceedingly wide-brimmed hats. Get that mercenary energy out of my show! But Arisa was involved in too many good storylines to rank any lower. Like when she turned down a date by suggesting they go to Costco … with all of their other roommates. Nothing kills a boner like a Costco run, and I wouldn’t know that without our little hat-monger.
See, Maya, if you lean into the bisexual storyline, you rank higher. Shun, however, would try and take baths with the dudes he had crushes on. That’s not necessarily the representation we need! Shun’s quasi-date with Soto made Soto seem fun, a task almost herculean in its difficulty. But then there’s the less-than-consensual baths. And for a makeup artist, we only got one scene of him practicing on a housemate. You couldn’t stop Uchi from doing people’s hair on his season! Too aggressive in his bathing, not aggressive enough in his makeovers.
Who would have thought that tiny little Riko would be at the center of the biggest shocking swerve in Terrace House history? When it was revealed that she and Hayato had secretly been getting it on, it blew the show apart. What makes Terrace House fascinating is the way it’s willing to acknowledge its constructed reality. The panel will call out anyone they suspect of faking it for the camera. The cast of Vanderpump Rules has to pretend to still be broke and waiting tables, but Riko can fully admit that she was acting a part on the show to preserve her idol identity.
Part of being on Terrace House is knowing when to leave. Taka stayed for so long, with very little in the way of goals. As a pro-snowboarder, he should have left with the winter. Or when he shaved his mustache to look younger and it backfired horrendously. Taka unsuccessfully wooed one girl, then half-heartedly dated two more. It felt very “I’m doing this because I’m on a show where this is done,” the make equivalent of Arisa. We have American reality shows for fake storylines! The most that can be said of him is that he cleaned the whole house before he left.
Yuya said he wanted to learn English, and said he wanted to be an actor. But really he wanted to ride horses in Hawaii and get a girlfriend. These are okay aspirations to have! What made Yuya great was his genuinely sweet personality. He had no idea that the amount of attention and chumminess he bestowed on women would come off as flirty. He was a great gift-giver! Reality TV can so often be a cesspool of toxic masculinity, so it’s nice to see a sweetheart once in a while.
Model/aspiring pilot Noah had a brief but eventful stay on the show. Almost every girl pursued him. He tactfully turned down Mayu and less tactfully did the same with Yui. But the chemistry was off the chain with Seina. The two are still together, so a certain amount of secret kisses can be forgiven. Were Noah and Seina hooking up secretly, ala Hayato and Riko? Hard to say. Allegedly their first kiss happened while both were blackout drunk and right after Noah had puked on the lawn. (Yikes!) But were they really blacked out, or was that a lie to save face with their fellow cast members? Noah said “I heard we kissed,” but he was the one who informed all his other housemates. So who told Noah? WHO TOLD NOAH?
Kaito is a skater, and was childhood friends with Guy from Aloha State. They are very, very similar. Kaito is kind of Guy-lite: less spacey, a little less dedicated to his sport, but more grounded and able to cook and hold conversations. Kaito had a cute and chill friends-with-benefits thing going with Maya, but chill normal hook-ups aren’t what we come to Terrace House for. We want oddly chased declarations of love! Gifts! Kaito and Maya had a very normal thing going, and it made for kind of bad TV.
Lauren has had quite an interesting post-TH career. Both her modeling and illustrating have taken off, including a collaboration with Marc Jacobs. And now she’s going to be on Legion, I guess? Lauren was the only house member to not be even half-Japanese. She taught herself Japanese after traveling there in high school. What I appreciated about Lauren was how she refused to become someone different for other people. She’s something of an introvert, and she doesn’t want to fuck Eden Kai. These are core principles for her that she stuck too, and I salute that.
Chikako was the first divorcée on Terrace House, and her “getting her groove back” plotline was more mature than what we usually see on the show. She also once ate a banana in a bikini to get a guy’s attention, which was considerably less mature than what we typically see on the show. Cheers to containing multitudes.
Aya was a catalyst for a lot of stuff. She set off multiple chain reactions. Her crush on Taka got him to finally skedaddle, and her friendship with Yui softened her TV persona. We wouldn’t think Yui was cute if Aya hadn’t been there saying so. And unlike Ami and Tsubasa, we actually got to watch this friendship develop. Finally, Aya discussed getting paid to promote things on Instagram. Finally, FINALLY, a reality show is acknowledging the after-careers of its contestants.
It’s not entirely Yuriko’s fault that she never really made an impact. As a medical student, she spent a lot of her time studying and probably cutting up dead bodies. Which I, for one, would have liked to see! Until the cowards at Netflix put dissection scenes in their reality dating shows, girls like Yuriko will never get a complete portrait.
Masao was already in a famous band when he came to Terrace House. In fact, his Gesu no Kiwami Otome bandmate had recently suffered a sex scandal in Japan. A cynical viewer might think Masao only went on the show to give people a new search result when someone googles “Gesu no Kiwami Otome.” Good thing we aren’t cynical! Masao was a good cook, and a different body type than we’d ever seen on Models Inc. Japan. Unfortunately, that meant the panel made lots of fat jokes at his expense. A triggering, middle of the pack entry!
You don’t see many chill teenagers hanging out on TH; it’s always “a love worth dying for.” It was nice to see a woman hook up with a dude on spring break, have fun, and be totally over it when she got back. Also, how weird was it that she went on a reality show during her spring break from college? That is using your time efficiently.
Mizuki was a writer/lingerie entrepreneuse who had a tendency to drink six beers alone and then chew out Yuudai. Yuudai needed chewing out, though, so she’s pretty high on the list. I also applaud her bravery/horniness. Mizuki wasn’t afraid to fuck an ex if she felt like it, even if he’s not interested in getting back together.
Always a barista, never a bride. Mizuki went on dates with three of her male roommates, but nothing ever kicked off. The one guy she didn’t date was Tap, who made her cry about having vague dreams. Poor Mizuki couldn’t articulate what deliberate steps she was taking towards opening a coffee shop, so Tap berated her until both she and Yuriko were in tears. It was his best birthday ever. But get this: she said she wanted to somehow combine coffee and travel, and now she travels the world doing pop-up coffee shops. Take that, Tap!
Martha came late in B&GITC, but she made quite the impact. I didn’t know that I needed to see Arman’s happy ending until it was right in front of me, but man, it felt good. Martha also seems like a cool lady, a good communicator.
Avian was no-nonsense on an excessively nonsensical season. Whenever someone needed a come-to-Jesus moment, Avian was there to provide. She gave good advice to Lauren, Naomi, and even her own future boyfriend, Yuya.
We barely saw Momoka because she was always at ballet practice. But how cool was it to have a ballerina in the house? And one who achieved her dreams in true Center Stage fashion? The scope of human experiences on this show are amazing. Whoever cast a ballerina should get a yacht.
Misaki was plucky and vulnerable, like the best rom-com heroines. After her rejection by Hikaru, she found a super adorable love with Byrnes. Misaki stood up to Natsumi, stayed supportive of Rikopin during her drama, and managed to get a really satisfying romance arc of her own.
Possibly the most extra man on the planet, Taishi seemed to be starring in a drama for which only he had the script. He came to the show to find “a love worth dying for,” as he often repeated. But then he would sometimes cry because he didn’t even know what that meant. The Guilty Samurai’s greatest contribution to culture was how mercilessly he was dunked on by the panel. You need someone with unswerving conviction in himself to weather such ridicule, and Taishi had that in spades.
Minori secured her spot in the top ten when she cooked the Coward Omelette. Ucchi and her had been dancing back and forth about being a real couple. Her plan to push him into commitment: make him omu-rice and write “coward” on it in ketchup. This is a wild form of communication, and frankly didn’t bode well for the rest of their relationship. Minori also brought the added bonus of her sister, Kurumi, who would drop in occasionally to talk shit and generally set people on their correct path. I would watch a Kurumi spin-off in a heartbeat.
Tap made multiple people cry at his own birthday, because he said their dreams weren’t concrete enough. No one took the career development aspect of Terrace House more seriously than professional tap dancer Yuki Adachi, aka Tap. Lucky in dance but unlucky in love, Tap was turned down by both Yuriko and Arisa. He honestly seemed like kind of a jerk. But when you saw him dance, you got that he just didn’t understand people who weren’t motivated like him.
Uchi is iconic, if only for the Meat Incident. After his roommates ate his special steaks without him, Uchi fell into a days-long depressive spell. He was only snapped out of it when his girlfriend’s sister gave him a talking-to. A tantrum for the ages. But Uchi also took all three female house members on dates in the same week: what became known as Uchi Week. Who does these things? Only a legend, that’s who.
I must admit, I was distrustful of Shion. He came on the show hoping to be swooned over. So when he started courting shy hockey player Tsubasa, I worried it was a craven move to get more airtime. But I guess love is real, because they’re still together even after leaving the show. Shion was thoughtful, funny, and apparently not faking being a nice person. Who knew?
Yuuki Byrnes, professional krumper and part-time model. First of all, does anyone in America even remember krumping, the dis-dance where people dress up as clowns and express their rage? Apparently it’s still a going concern in Japan. Secondly, Byrnes is who broke the Hayato/Riko story. If he hadn’t have confronted them, we’d have never known about their clandestine dalliances. Finally, he and Misaki were very cute together. Byrnes krumped his way onto the show and into our hearts.
There’s no greater pleasure in this life than watching Guy water a succulent. Guy was so chill, it was like he was a different species. But he still worked hard at his pro-surfing, even overcoming a bad case of nerves after a nasty near drowning.
Arman truly broke the mold. Everything you shouldn’t do as a house member, he did, and yet we were all charmed. He stayed in the house for so long. He barely had a career (WTF is an Aspiring Firefighter?). He tried to date waaay too many people. But when he and Martha finally hooked up, it was magical. Arman is like a real-life Fry from Futurama, and it was adorable when he found his Leela.
The one thing missing from Terrace House before Tsuchan was uplifting sports drama. Her story had everything: competition, death, noodles, love, and more noodles. Tsubasa was the star hockey player on her team, and even dreamt of representing Japan in the Olympics. But she also needed love and friendship in her life! Her mom died at hockey practice, which made the whole sport more fraught! Her dad has a cool grey streak and gives good advice! Tsubasa and Shion’s quiet romance was perhaps the best in Terrace House history. Her and Shion should get a Strange Love style spin-off, with guest spots by her dad and Minori’s sister, but with a hockey game in every episode. I don’t care that she and Shion have since broken up. I’d still watch 10 episodes at least.
Yuto Handa was the only house member to come onto the show with a girlfriend. People go on Terrace House to either find love or career fulfillment, but Han-san seemed to be there solely to act as a fairy godfather to his housemates. Nobody gave better advice, or was more willing to help out a bud. His hat-stands for Arisa’s store were so cute! And no one could calm Natsumi down like him. The whole house would have probably broken out in knife fights and vomit were it not for the best house dad/architect around.
My drunk queen! Seina is the GOAT of Terrace House, everything that makes these shows great. A pot-stirrer without being needlessly confrontational, Seina will nudge people towards self-actualization and love without being a jerk about it. Uchi and Minori would have never gotten together without her prodding. Seina was a cast member on the original, non-Netflix Boys and Girls Next Door. She then made cameo appearances on B&GITC and Aloha State. Seina met her boyfriend on her original season, then when they broke up she joined Opening New Doors to find a new dude. And although she was there to smash, Seina rarely threw her female housemates under the bus. For example, when Shion tried to take her out for a date, she shut it down quickly because she knew the depth of Tsubasa’s feelings. And she might have broken girl code a little to get with Noah, but c’mon. Look at him. Look at them together. Their coupling was so electric, it got even noted prude Torichan extremely horny. As she’ll tell you herself, Seina is a legend.