Previously on “Terrace House”: Risako takes a drastic — some may even say desperate — step of winning the charming Ruka over by flat out telling him to “date me,” in what has been one of the show’s more exciting proclamations of romantic intent. Then, we have to wait two whole weeks for his response. After all that, I was on the edge of my seat as Episode 5 began and … Ruka just laughs it off. Huh. That’s it?

Before that anticlimax, however, the commentators deliver a juicy sneak peek into Haruka’s past. Ryota “Yama-chan” Yamasato spills the matcha tea and tells everyone he watched an interview on YouTube with Haruka where she revealed that she has a tendency to “want what other people have.”

Yama-chan implies she’s some kind of green-eyed succubus who has it out for all of the couples in the house — and the proof is in her getting chummy with Kenny after he showed interest in Kaori, and flirting with Ruka the moment he started getting close to Risako. Reina “Tori-chan” Triendl agrees with a simple “kowakatta” (“it was scary”).

Yama-chan also continues to bash Ruka for claiming to be a “shy boy” who can’t talk to women when he is clearly claiming hearts left and right. Yama-chan’s one to talk, though. His entire routine is that he’s a bitter, unloved loser — who just got hitched to Yu Aoi, one of the most famous actresses in the country. Maybe he’s just upset that Ruka is stealing his shtick.

Once the episode properly gets going, we see the entire house ringing in the new imperial era with some Reiwa-themed drinks (read more about Reiwa below). The girls make fun of Kenny — as he sits (within hearing range!) in the next room — for how he doesn’t like potential love interests seeing him perform on stage. The women are clearly not feeling his rock persona.

The roommates waste zero time figuring out their date plans as they say farewell to the Heisei Era. Kaori and Shohei decide to explore Ginza before checking out a bar called Chawari. Haruka invites Ruka to watch her upcoming drag race, but sadly he has to work that day — all the while Risako listens with a straight face and casually inspects her sharp, pointy nails. Watch your back, Haruka.

The next morning, it’s Risako’s turn to dangle Ruka in front of Haruka. The blushing beau has agreed to take Risako to her parkour class and the pair write a cute joint message on the chalkboard: “We’re going for a drive!” Haruka just looks on from the kitchen table.

The couple share a very intimate drive — by “Terrace House” standards, anyway — as they sip from the same bottle of tea (!) and agree to share one of Risako’s hats (!!). After Risako’s lesson, they return home together in the pouring rain, cook dinner and then discuss what they want to do for their next hangout. The pair has an adorable moment (the highlight of the episode, IMHO) when they count to three and say the activity they want to do together: Ruka wants to do parkour, Risako wants to go bouldering. Haruka, butt out of this burgeoning love!

Speaking of Haruka, she is riding solo at a racing event in Tochigi Prefecture where she changes her tires and races against the clock without breaking a sweat. We’re also introduced to some of her ojisan (old man) pals, and she tells them she has trouble relating to people her own age. Hopefully, “Terrace House” will fix that.

For a change of pace from the Haruka-Ruka-Risako love triangle, we get scenes of Kenny and Kaori spending a casual afternoon together in Omotesando. They check out a clothing store and trade T-shirt ideas before visiting a burger shop where they have a blunt conversation about work and finances.

In a country where working hard and being humble are social expectations, these two are able to let their guard down with each other: Kenny admits that he makes a lot more money writing music for commercials than for his band, and Kaori sheepishly confesses that she’s never really that busy with work. She tells Kenny that she appreciates the honest way he talks about music, careers and finances, and this conversation feels much deeper than anything we’ve seen from Ruka and Risako.

Toward the end of the episode, the housemates head to Kanagawa Prefecture to watch Kenny’s band perform live. Before the show starts, Haruka and Kaori grab lunch together, so we get to see Haruka try to hang out with someone her own age. More importantly, we witness the second time Kaori scarfs down a hamburger on camera this episode, cementing her role as the low-maintenance girl next door.

At the gig, Haruka and Kaori appear to be enraptured by Kenny’s performance — particularly Kaori, who doesn’t stop smiling during his entire show. Could she be falling for him? Is Shohei even in the picture? Stay tuned.

What the heck is Reiwa?

The fifth episode of “Terrace House” starts with the house ringing in the new Reiwa Era like it’s New Year’s Eve (which it kind of is), complete with alcohol and shouts of “kanpai!” (“cheers!”). But what is it?

Long story short, before Japan used the Western Gregorian calendar it had its own system of counting years that coincided with the reign of an emperor. Usually, the eras flip when an emperor dies and their heir takes the throne.

This time, Emperor Akihito — still very much alive — opted to retire. So when his son, Emperor Naruhito, took the throne, the country saw it coming from a mile away. We moved from the Heisei Era to the Reiwa Era on May 1, and the runup saw a barrage of nostalgic “era in review” items in the media. One benefit of the retirement? The Japanese were able to treat it like a second New Year’s Eve.

The changeover also allowed for a string of holidays that gave everyone 10 days off from work — which meant more time for Kaori to load up on hamburgers, and a lot of chances for “what am I doing with my life” reflection from the nation’s millennials.

The Japan Times is posting weekly recaps of “Terrace House Tokyo 2019-2020” by staff writers Alyssa I. Smith and Tom Hanaway. New episodes of “Terrace House Tokyo 2019-2020” stream on Netflix on Tuesdays, on Fuji TV on Demand (FOD) from June 11th on Tuesdays, and will air on Fuji TV from July

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