people in a Japanese restaurant

Does Terry Crews Speak Japanese?

Pop quiz time! Who starred in some of the most popular MAD remix videos on the Japanese site Nico Nico Douga around 2010?

If you said, “The Old Spice Guy” or “Terry Crews,” you’re right. Terry Crews is known for a lot of things, including a role in the television show Brooklyn Nine Nine and hosting the Netflix show Ultimate Beastmaster, which even took him to Japan at one point.

These things might make you curious and wonder, “Does Terry Crews Speak Japanese?”

Terry Jefford’s Girlfriend

There are two episodes in Brooklyn Nine Nine where a relationship is described between Terry Crews’ character, Terry Jeffords, and a Japanese woman, Chiaki. In the episode “Changes and Specs” from Season One, the audience is introduced to an ex-girlfriend who he had met while doing a semester abroad in Japan. Though Jeffords had gone to Japan for the sake of learning the language, the only thing he discovered was unrequited, heartbreaking love.

Chiaki did not have the same feelings for Jeffords and coldly breaks up with him by saying, “Sorry, I thought you knew this was just a fling.” Upon returning from Japan, Terry Crews’ character has to vent his frustration by smashing plates.

In Season Five, Chiaki is again mentioned briefly in the episode “Kicks”. Jeffords recalls how she had cheated on him while they dated in Japan. He tells the other characters Rosa and Amy how he found a man’s sock, asked Chiaki about it, and was told it was for tea ceremonies.

In both episodes, Jeffords and Chiaki speak English to one another, so it seems that he didn’t pick up any Japanese during that semester abroad.

Ultimate Beastmaster Japan

Back in 2017, Terry Crews joined Sylvester Stallone as a host for the entertaining sports reality show called Ultimate Beastmaster. The show separated itself from other competitions by having several localized versions in different countries that was hosted by actors, comedians, and retired athletes. As athletes run through the obstacle course known as “The Beast,” the reactions of the hosts are monitored on the screen as well.

Although Crews was the main host for the US division (alongside Charissa Thompson), he also appeared in a few episodes of Ultimate Beastmaster Japan. Any comments that Crews made were in English then presented to the Japanese viewers using subtitles. During this time, he did not use Japanese.

Terry Crews Speaking Japanese

His comedic role in Old Spice commercials was wildly popular in Japan, making Terry Crews well known in the Land of the Rising Sun. However, there is no evidence that he has spent enough time there to learn Japanese or has any ability to speak it. Crews’ career has largely been spent in America, and he has not been heard speaking any other language than English.

We also have to remember that, just because his character Terry Jeffords studied abroad in Japan, it does not mean that Crews was over there. In fact, Crews studied art in college with a full scholarship from football, so he probably did not have any time for studying abroad at that point.


Terry Crews has encountered a lot of Japanese actors and actresses throughout his career and even gained renown in Japan for his Old Spice commercials. However, Terry Crews does not speak Japanese. There is no evidence to say that he has command of a second language. Despite his acting career, there is no proof that Crews was taught any foreign languages.

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  • Valerie is a digital nomad who writes to travel the world. She is also a professional dancer, BJJ practitioner, personal fitness trainer, and yoga instructor. Her work is supported by an A.S. in Exercise Science and a B.A. in Liberal Studies with a concentration in Dance.

2 thoughts on “Does Terry Crews Speak Japanese?”

  1. Terry and Chiaki spoke Japanese to each other, not English, in both episodes you mentioned. A good chance Terry was just doing it phonetically.

  2. “In both episodes, Jeffords and Chiaki speak English to one another”

    Maybe you should go back and rewatch those episodes, those scenes use subtitles because they are both speaking Japanese. Terry’s Japanese isn’t great, but it’s definitely NOT English. The fact that you got this part factually incorrect calls into question the validity of this whole piece.

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