Japanese cuddle cafes, rental families & host boy clubs! Tokyo TV fixers for Olli Schulz in a Box.

tokyo fashion street snaps, punk girls

The cat’s out of the bag… or box. The Pirates were in Tokyo last December to work on a travel-comedy TV show for Pro Sieben Europe, starring comedian Olli Schulz.

As the show’s production coordinators, we put together a Jpop potpourri. Our shoot locations included a cat cafe, cuddle cafe, host club… and we even rented a fake Japanese family. As Super Mario would say, “Let’s-ah Goooo!”

tokyo host clubs poster, top hosts

My team’s arranged and appeared in dozens of TV shows in the past years, mostly about travel and underground culture. Remember when we gave Klaas a bagelhead, and then sewed Joko’s lips together? These shows were hits when they aired on German network Pro 7, so the crew hired us again to work with Olli.

Schulz in a Box, pro sieben tv

This new program is called “Schulz in a Box,” and the concept is pretty amazing. Olli is sick of feeling lonely in Berlin, so he gets in a giant box, and mails himself around the world in search of friends. First Mate Naomi (above) and I jumped at chance to do this show, if only to pose in a giant crate in the middle of Kabukicho…

japanese host boy, escort club

… and hang out with poof-haired Japanese host boys! When Olli breaks out of the box, he meets one and trains to be one of them.

japan princess tiaras

As you can see from club decor, women go to host clubs to be treated like princesses, since men (especially in traditional Japan) can be lacking in the romantic department.

host boys documentary

Once you’ve paid your “prince,” he’ll act like you’re the light of his life. But behind-the-scenes, these guys seem bored and play with their smartphones as they wait for a meeting to start.

kabukicho host club decoration

Mostly found in the Kabukicho “red light district” in east Shinjuku, the clubs try to stand out by having themes or over-the-top decor. This club group is called “Smappa”, and we mainly shot at the strangely named “Hans Axel Ven Fersen”. (Google tells me Axel was a close companion and possible secret lover of Marie Antoinette, which taps into what these clubs offer.)

long nosed fish in tank

This space is decorated with plastic chandelier strands, lights that change colors, and long-nosed fish swimming in tanks. (It’s still not as gaudy as Club Ai, where we filmed with Norwegian TV.)

host boys hairstyles, salon

Hair-ready, the hosts gather for the weekly meeting. For about an hour, they stand and listen to announcements, such as the current ranking. All hosts are ranked according to popularity and pull, and the best ones have their faces on the giant posters.

japanese host club meeting

Olli was a great sport, and had his hair spiked and sprayed in a host salon. He practiced his hosting skills with female clients, making dark jokes along the way.

cat house, furniture

On another day, we filmed with our friend Kanae at a cat cafe! (Remember her from NYC adventures and the Corporate Goth party?)

exotic shorthair, flat faced cat

Cat cafes are another way for lonely hearts to find company. Nothing cures loneliness like a squish faced kitty.

japanese face masks

We set up this scene in Shinjuku’s Calico Cat Cafe (where we also shot with Food Network). At the entrance, you can pick up a face mask in case you’re allergic to fur.

calico cat cafe shinjuku

Kanae did a great job chatting with Olli about Japanese culture, and the quirky ways that people combat loneliness here.

two scottish fold cats

In Japan, Scottish Folds are hugely popular. Every cat cafe has to have at least one foldy, and this one had several. (But they’re objectively not as cute as my Basil Farrow, right?)

cat in travel bag

When we arrived, a woman was carrying out about five meowing cats in bags. This fold-eared one looked rather squashed!

cat cafe tokyo photos

If you’re visiting Tokyo, try visiting one of these unique cafes. It’s quite the experience to play with dozens of gentle kitties, and you’re allowed to take no-flash pictures.

kitten sitting in a dish

Guests can also order tea and snacks, or read manga.

cat cafes, play with many cats

Tip: buy a packet of bonito flakes, and you’re instantly popular! Kanae is wearing a Jack Skellington Trick or Treat sweater from the Rollick collection in Lumine.

neko cafe toys

I’m wearing an Algonquins teal top from the latest collection, and Angelica Brigade hair flowers.

dolly contact lens, colored contacts

The German TV crew was enamored with Kanae’s doll-like contact lenses and eye makeup.

kera model, japanese fashionista

Kanae poses like a “nyan nyan” cat, outside Don Quixote Shinjuku. She’s a street snap in the latest issue of Kera Magazine!

cuddle cafe shinjuku

The Pirates also arranged a segment in a cuddle cafe. Yes, men pay women dressed in pajamas to hold them in their arms. No hanky-panky goes on, just hugging and cooing.

I’m in one of the “cuddle stalls,” which contain a mattress, ball and stuffed toys. Olli found this place a tad uncomfortable, for obvious reasons.

rental family, tokyo rent parents

However, we loved renting a fake family! In Japan, you can pay people to pretend to be your mother, father, siblings or other relatives.

rent a japanese family

This Japanese “mother” dressed and played her part spot on. She gave Olli quiet encouragement and sang him to sleep, in one of the show’s funniest segments.

capsule hotel rooms

In another example of “alone together”, we did a scene at Green Plaza capsule hotel. At night, all of these coffin-sized spaces will be filled with businessmen — women aren’t generally allowed. There’s just enough room to lie down, and watch the tiny TV above (naturally, there are naughty channels).

taito arcade akihabara

Finally, we made special arrangements to shoot inside Akihabara’s Taito video game arcade. An anime girl with cat-ears welcomes us.

video game arcade games

Olli enjoyed playing Dance Dance Revolution, and a table flipping game that lets you vent your anger.

akihabara game center

The game center had several floors of video games, including retro fighting ones. Later in the day, these rows will be entirely filled with otaku (geeks).

olli schulz, banana fish sweater

Naomi and I had a terrific time working with Olli Schulz and his team. You can learn more about this travel-humor show and see the episode on Pro 7 (note, this may not be viewable in all countries).

My “The Bitter End” sweater is by the defunct brand Banana Fish. Found it at Closet Child Shinjuku, and paired it with old diamond print tights.

japanese host boys, male escorts

If you’re intrigued by host boy culture, take a look at the award-winning show I hosted on Norway TV. (This video is watchable everywhere.)

japan host club signs

What do you think about host clubs, rent-a-family, cuddle cafes, and the other strange ways the Japanese deal with loneliness?

cat sitting on windowsill

If you’re a television production company looking to film in Japan, then we hope you’ll reach out to us! In addition to on-camera hosting, the Pirates take care of all filming logistics, permits, translation and any other arrangements necessary. Click to find out more about our TV fixing firm (and see examples of our past work, including bagelheads). Arr.



  1. MelissaR
    Posted February 16, 2014 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    Absolutely fascinating article. The restaurant / cafe scene in Japan is so unique and out there – totally makes me want to go back. And I love the pigtails!!

  2. Lindy
    Posted February 16, 2014 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    Host boy clubs! Weeooo

  3. Ralph
    Posted February 16, 2014 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    loved this one

  4. Chris
    Posted February 16, 2014 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

    Wow. Nicely done, La Carmina.

  5. Carla N.
    Posted February 16, 2014 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

    I really need to watch that show

  6. Leyla
    Posted February 16, 2014 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

    That sounded like a lot of fun!

  7. Vera
    Posted February 17, 2014 at 12:26 am | Permalink

    O japan. Endlessly interested in what they do.

  8. Hibari
    Posted February 17, 2014 at 2:12 am | Permalink

    I first heard about cuddle cafes on a forum for asexuals. It seemed weird at first, but I like the idea of getting that comfort without worrying that you need to do other things or take the person out for a date. I bet it’s nice on those cold Japanese winter nights.

    I love the concept of Olli’s show.

    • lacarmina
      Posted February 17, 2014 at 6:56 am | Permalink

      Yeah! I love how places think outside the box in Japan, and there’s something for everyone.

  9. Alcy
    Posted February 17, 2014 at 3:08 am | Permalink

    Ah! I went to that Taito Station, but didn’t see the table game! :(

    • lacarmina
      Posted February 17, 2014 at 6:55 am | Permalink

      Ahh it was kinda hidden since it’s an older game… How are you??

      • Alcy
        Posted February 17, 2014 at 7:33 am | Permalink

        Hmm, hanging in here. I can’t wait to go back to Japan! Hopefully I can catch you next time ;p You should’ve gotten a snap of Hige Girls!

  10. Claus
    Posted February 17, 2014 at 5:20 am | Permalink

    Interesting article of what they will come up next. I still have to check the kitty cafés. The boys club reminds me of an escort service program. Hehe

  11. Maaya
    Posted February 17, 2014 at 5:21 am | Permalink

    que bizarro esto

  12. Nancy
    Posted February 17, 2014 at 9:11 pm | Permalink


  13. Rose
    Posted February 17, 2014 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

    this is AWESOME

  14. Mona
    Posted February 17, 2014 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

    Sounds like something I’d love to follow.

  15. Berry Blue
    Posted February 17, 2014 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    love this one!

  16. 酒井孝彦
    Posted February 17, 2014 at 9:52 pm | Permalink


  17. Anie Inspired
    Posted February 19, 2014 at 12:33 am | Permalink

    I would DIEEEE if I went to that cat cafe. Not of allergies, but of fluffiness overload! Someone take me!!

  18. April Jackson
    Posted February 19, 2014 at 1:45 am | Permalink

    Wow that looked like so much fun! Next time I’m in Japan I will have to check out the rent a family thing. Seems so cute! While I lived in Korea I’d always go to the dog cafes but they do tend to smell a bit. ^^ I got bit and scratched at the cat cafe I went to once so I’ll never go again. Maybe the cats sensed I was a dog person. Lol.

    • lacarmina
      Posted February 19, 2014 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

      It’s adorable, there’s nothing like having Japanese parents for a day haha! I went to dog cafes too, I think I prefer cat ;)

  19. Melanie
    Posted February 19, 2014 at 1:47 am | Permalink

    日本へ帰ったら、Cat cafe へ行くようにします。

    • lacarmina
      Posted February 19, 2014 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

      Cat cafes rock!

      • キラ 様
        Posted February 19, 2014 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

        It’s been announced that a new cat cafe Chat l’heureux will be opening this April in the city where I live! So exciting!! >w<

        • lacarmina
          Posted February 20, 2014 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

          Ah I was in Montreal last year for Kinetik!! Hope I can come back for kittehsss

  20. キラ 様
    Posted February 19, 2014 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    I -UvU- like host clubs by males

  21. nat
    Posted February 19, 2014 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

    i love it! visiting cat cafes are my dream

  22. Lyndsay
    Posted February 22, 2014 at 2:47 am | Permalink

    Hahaha Oh my gosh I can’t believe I found this site!!! I saw you and your crew at “Hans Axel Ven Fersen” I remember you and the German lady (i think she was German, sorry if I’m wrong) and all the cameras and stuff. That was back in Dec 2013. You probably don’t remember from all the busyness :P I was the girl with bright orange hair I was talking with my friends outside for a bit before coming in.

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