Culture | CULTURE NOTES

Will 'Queer Eye' show a different view of Japanese culture?

by Patrick St. Michel

Contributing Writer

Netflix’s popular reality series “Queer Eye” recently wrapped up filming for a number of special Japan-based episodes. The footage from the recent trip to the country won’t air until later in the year, so curious viewers will have to wait to see just how the Fab Five highlight the country to the world.

However, the stars of “Queer Eye” and staff working behind the scenes shared plenty of posts on social media, offering snapshots of their visit (SoraNews24 compiled some of the highlights). How much of it factors into the show proper remains to be seen — something tells me Kiko Mizuhara and Naomi Watanabe weren’t just playing travel guides for kicks — but, regardless, these updates offered a snapshot of how celebrities spend their holidays in the country. It, along with other recent cases, highlighted some new spots becoming popular with prominent figures, while also reminding us that time-tested landmarks persevere.

Maybe I’m naive about celeb life, but I always assumed that when they visit a city such as Tokyo they hit up elite establishments regular schmucks can only dream of accessing. However, it turns out they are just like your distant cousin reaching out for the first time in a decade looking for travel tips from a local. They end up going to Robot Restaurant or the Kawaii Monster Cafe. And the “Queer Eye” guys are hardly alone in visiting these places. Chrissy Teigen apparently loves the former location enough to have gone twice, while all sorts of stars have popped up at the latter. At least they didn’t pull a Katy Perry or Nolan Gould, who spent part of their vacation in Tokyo riding around in those real-life Mario Kart go-karts.

But those are old hat at this point, and have inspired eye rolls from local non-Japanese residents for years now. The Fab Five’s visit, though, points to what the next frontier of Tokyo tourism for the elite will be. The teamLab Borderless exhibition in Odaiba factored in heavily to the “Queer Eye” posts from the capital. The spot’s relative newness hasn’t garnered the same cynicism that Robot Restaurant or the Mario go-karts have, but has attracted visits from influencers eager to share photos of them standing in front of the brightly colored displays on Instagram. Expect to see plenty more rich and famous folks visiting that spot in the years to come.

But the final lesson to take from the “Queer Eye” trip to Japan is that the classic landmarks endure. It turns out temples are just as appealing to famous people as they are to your parents visiting the country for the first time. Which is kind of charming — for all of the “wacky Japan” tourist traps capturing the attention of Los Angeles’ finest, it’s nice to know Japan’s traditional institutions are just as capable of pulling in visitors, elite and otherwise.

Hopefully the actual show will find a fresher angle on life in the country, ideally falling in the middle of “ancient splendor” and “zany kooky crazy.”

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