There are few things in life as comforting as a new batch of Terrace House episodes on Netflix. Part 3 of the latest installment, Terrace House: Tokyo 2019-2020, just dropped on the streaming service and we get to spend time with all of our friendly faves, from wannabe Spider-Man Ruka to up-and-coming manga artist Peppe to lovestruck wrestler Hana. But there’s one fave that is conspicuously missing from the proceedings: host Yoshimi Tokui.
This is a shocking development as Tokui has been one of the show’s most gregarious hosts for seven years. He’s appeared as a commentator in not only every iteration of Terrace House, but almost every single episode! His absence is major, and the first episode of Part 3—the first Tokui-free ep—doesn’t really explain where he went. But they do have to mention the literal Tokui-sized hole in the room visible in the very first shot of Part 3.
Then after running through the show’s premise per usual, there’s a heavy sigh from resident troublemaker Ryota Yamasato and the hosts comment that “this feels odd.” They all banter back and forth about their absent “fearless leader,” saying that “he’ll be away for a while” and “he needs time to process things” and he’s “taking time to think things through.” You sums it all up, concluding that Tokui “won’t be joining us for a little while.” They all agree to “hold down the fort” and wait for his return.
So… what are they talking about?! What is Tokui processing and thinking about? He’s thinking… about how he didn’t report the equivalent of one million dollars on his taxes between 2016 and 2018.
The news broke in late October 2019 when Tokui held a press conference to apologize for not reporting his self-owned company’s income for three years. The grand total of unreported income came to 118 million yen, which is roughly just over a million dollars. How did this happen? As Tokui explained in his press conference, uh, he just forgot!
After a tax accountant told him that he needed to declare his company’s income some time ago, Tokui said he would do it but “I kept on putting it off, though I had the intention to pay the tax. Due to my unimaginable sloppiness, a day passed and then a week, then a month and now three years.” Yikes. He has, however, paid all the back taxes he owes in addition to a penalty of 34 million yen ($312K).
Unlike in America where public figures like Teresa Guidice and Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino had their similar crimes and fallout woven into the fabric of their reality shows and were eagerly welcomed back to television, there’s a big stigma around this in Japan. Tokui’s employer Yoshimoto Kogyo released a statement saying that Tokui would refrain from performing for the time being. That’s why he’s no longer on Terrace House as of Part 3, which started airing in Japan around a month and a half after his press conference. He’s in a self-imposed exile. He really is taking some time to process things.
So while we wait for Tokui to return to Terrace House (his co-hosts clearly miss him, as he’s mentioned in nearly every episode!), lets remember some choice Tokui moments.