Conan O'Brien Visits "Conan Town," Rents Fake Family in Japan Special

The TBS late-night host took up a Japanese mayor's offer to visit on Wednesday's special, in which he also tried on "Kawaii style" and took etiquette lessons.
Courtesy of TBS

Conan O'Brien made good on his promise to visit Japan's "Conan Town" on Wednesday during a Japan travel special that also saw the late-night host rent a fake family, try on "Kawaii style" and take etiquette lessons.

O'Brien was invited to Japan by the mayor of Hokuei, Japan, after he aired a segment in which the late-night host joked that a Japanese manga character called "Detective Conan" had been ripping him off since 1994 and demanded 3 trillion yen in recompense. Hokuei, the birthplace of creator Gosho Aoyama, has been dubbed "Conan Town." 

"If you want the money, come visit Hokuei," the town's mayor said in a letter to O'Brien.

Before he reached Conan Town, however, O'Brien kicked off the episode by taking etiquette classes with two Japanese teachers. Immediately, one teacher flagged that he was standing too close to her for comfort in Japanese culture. "You're not my type," she said. When O'Brien asked her why, she said, simply, "Face."

The late-night host then set off to rent a fake family, a service that he learned about from stories about Japan's crisis of loneliness. While choosing his fake family, he joked that a 48-year-old woman was too old for the 55-year-old comedian. "I'm from Los Angeles and a man my age is required my law to marry a woman who's 25," he joked. He nixed a fake son who was 35 years old, saying that he was worried his fake 48-year-old wife would run off with him, and settled for a younger fake daughter.

Conan eventually met the family, where he set up the rules of the family: He asked that the family laugh at all his jokes, unlike his real family, and that his father apologize to him about an incident with creamed corn that occurred in the 1970s. After O'Brien demanded the family laugh at a bad joke about ramen, however, they laughed every time he opened his mouth. Later, they spent time in Tokyo, wearing face masks while on a walk in the park and buying ice cream.

O'Brien later visited Harajuku, the Tokyo neighborhood known for its colorful, quirky Kawaii (or "cute") style. Paired with a stylist and two young people who wear Kawaii style every day, Conan picked out an outfit. "Is there a law against me dressing like a 14-year-old girl?" he asked. Later, wearing purple hair and a vibrant rainbow getup, he walked down a city street and posed for photos. While taking a photo with a little girl, he joked he would pay for her therapy later in life.

Later on in the episode, O’Brien met up with a young Japanese couple who had invited him to their wedding. “I would have come but it was 6,000 miles away and I don’t know you,” O’Brien quipped when meeting the newlyweds at their apartment.

After joining the couple in bed, the host asked them what they enjoyed about the show and they mentioned his producer Schlansky, much to O’Brien’s chagrin. The host then brought in his long-winded sidekick who proceeded to comment on the decor of the apartment. As O’Brien became more and more annoyed with Schlansky’s ramblings, he slowly removed the two newlyweds from the room as Schlansky continued talking.

O’Brien made it up to his producer by taking him out to a meal near a koi pond where the host slurped miso soup loudly and competed with Schlansky for a waitress’ attention.

When Schlansky revealed to O’Brien that his fascination with Japan stemmed from the 1986 film Karate Kid Part II, O’Brien shared a taped message from the film’s star, Ralph Macchio, with Schlansky. “I’m sorry to interrupt, but I wanted to tell that Jordan guy that all those films from Karate Kid II that were supposed to be filmed in Japan were actually filmed in Hawaii,” Macchio said. “Oh, and Jordan, those aren’t real dinosaurs in Jurassic Park.”

The Schlansky and O’Brien duo later traveled to the Toto toilet factory in Tokyo to check out the latest in high-tech bathroom technology. “I think it’s barbaric that we have to go to the toilet,” O’Brien said. “I think the toilet should come to us.” In addition to that contribution, the host also offered to provide his voice for some of Toto’s products.

When O’Brien finally ended up in Conan Town, he made quite a stir as citizens were on the scene at the airport to greet him — the only problem being that the late-night host had traveled to the wrong airport. When he did eventually arrive, he met with the mayor and was appointed “Mayor for the Day.” When he was presented with a sash to celebrate his new position, O’Brien returned the favor by bestowing a Miss Iowa sash on the actual mayor.

The show concluded with O’Brien addressing a crowd of Conan citizens to declare he was the “real, original Conan,” but he forgave them.