Slow-burning Japanese reality show Terrace House returned to Netflix screens worldwide this week with the release of Part 2 of Opening New Doors, the latest season set in the mountains of Karuizawa. It's still a refreshingly chill iteration of the show, so far maintaining the perfect blend of mild interpersonal drama and not much else at all.
I went to visit the house and interview its residents back in February ahead of Part 1's release, but I held back on publishing too many of my photos. Terrace House has a pretty long lead time even for the weekly Japanese schedule, let alone the rest of the world, so I saw things and met people that would've amounted to spoilers.
Be warned if you haven't watched all of Part 2 yet, then this photo essay might tell you things about who leaves and enters the house. If you're okay with that, scroll down to see what I saw.
Photography by Sam Byford / The Verge
The house is fairly remote, but the producers aren't going out of their way to disguise it.
See also: bright green front door with the show's name on it.
The first thing you see in the house is a collection of extreme sports gear.
The residents in the living room.
Shion Okamoto, model. “I’m pretty confident I’m having the most fun,” he says. “I liked living with roommates when I was in Tokyo, so it’s a lot of fun for me to be in an environment where there’s six guys and girls living together.”
Ami Komuro, university student and aspiring model. “Half of me is having fun and the other half is anxious about the future,” she says. “About work and things like that.”
Takayuki Nakamura, a pro snowboarder. “I would be ecstatic if some viewers became interested in snowboarding after seeing a snowboarder living in Terrace House for the first time,” he says. “I don’t have a girlfriend, so it would be awesome if I could have an amazing encounter, experience romance and find someone great.”
Tsubasa Sato, hockey player. “I do think I’m being my true self,” she says. “I’m usually like this. I get told that I have a very energetic and positive personality, so I think it all just shows right through.”
New resident Seina Shimabukuro. Seina replaced original cast member Mizuki Haruta, and is something of a Terrace House veteran — she was a house member in the first season, and has made various appearances ever since. “A serious relationship I’d been in had ended, and I wanted to find a lifetime relationship next,” she says. “I’m here to find the person I’ll marry! Since I was 25, I’ve only been in relationships through Terrace House, so I signed up again thinking that this is the only way to meet people for me.”
The other new resident, Shohei Uemura. He replaces one of the show’s more controversial figures, aspiring chef Yuudai Arai, and is a musician. “I realized while producing my current album that most of my works have been based on fictional stories that I made up in my head,” he says. “I thought that I would like to experience real, heartfelt love at Terrace House and turn my true experiences into music. Part of me craves something new and exciting, too.”
Takayuki in the living room.
The dining table, scene of many a dramatic confrontation in Terrace Houses past.
Ami, Tsubasa, and Shohei in the kitchen.
The playroom TV. Note the giant wine fridge.
The onsen-style bathroom.
Someone has a lot of hats, someone has 2012 on Blu-ray.
Around the back of the house.
The residents in the snowy garden.
This gazebo hasn't gotten a lot of use so far. Probably because it is super cold in Karuizawa.
The outdoor barbecue area sees more foot traffic.
Though it's mostly being used as an ashtray.
And a place to dump empty beer cases.
The house's surroundings are really beautiful.
But you do have to watch out for the flying squirrels.