"Returning Japanese" is the one hundred-twenty-fifth episode of King of the Hill. It was first aired on May 12, 2002. The episode is a double feature, which is split during syndication.
The episode begins with Peggy at the Arlen Bystander trying to trick the editor into giving her a free trip to Hawaii to avoid a traditional (but dreadful to Peggy) Hill family vacation trip to Denton, but it fails when the editor sees right through the trick. Back at the Hill residence where a Memorial Day BBQ is being held, Cotton feels strangely uncomfortable when he sees wartime images and storms out. Didi tells Hank that Cotton has not been acting like himself and asks for help. Dale suggests taking Cotton to John Redcorn's healing spa for steam with Bill tagging along. Once there Redcorn tells them the steam room is a sweat lodge and charges them $20 each to use it. Once inside the sweat lodge, the four guys begin to hallucinate; Bill sees himself naked and riding a motorcycle off a cliff into a giant pie, Dale sees himself having sex with a praying mantis before it decapitates him, and Hank sees himself finally gaining his father's love and acceptance. But Cotton sees every last soldier he killed in WWII entering the tent to kill him which causes him to run out and berates Hank for the idea.
Back In Cotton's apartment, Bobby sees his grandfather looking at a picture of a Japanese woman inside a wallet. Cotton tells Bobby that it belonged to a solder he killed, and admits to his grandson that that he wants to go back to Japan to apologize to those he hurt, but doesn't have the money to do so. Bobby wanting to help, takes the news to Hank and Peggy and asks her to take the story to the Bystander coining the title "The Widow in the Wallet", but Peggy (due to her own egotism or her dislike for Cotton) shoots down the idea saying "there is no story". The next day at the Bystander, Peggy tries again to get a free vacation with more stories which still don't get past the editor. With no options left she reluctantly tells the editor the "Widow in the Wallet" story which finally gets Peggy a free vacation to Japan.
Once they get to the airport and on the plane, Cotton begins to have a war flashback which forces the airline staff to drug him to calm him down. Once in Japan, Cotton awakens and runs back in the plane when the paparazzi appears (having been informed by the Bystander) to make a story of Cottons apology. Hank goes after his father, but Cotton tells him that he wants to say his apology in secret. Hank hides Cotton in a duffel bag and tricks the news crews into letting them leave. At the hotel they are staying at they find the rooms to be way too small and cramped.
Hank goes to his father's room, where Cotton reveals that he is nervous about meeting the woman (later known as Michiko) again after so long, but Hank encourages him to go for it. Just as Hank was about to shake his father's hand for the first time he begins noticing some strange things when a hotel room service employee comes in bringing flowers and cologne, and that Cotton dyed his hair brown with shoe polish. Hank realizes that Michiko wasn't really a widow, she was just another woman Cotton slept with. This news forces Hank to call Cotton a dirty old man as he angrily leaves the room. In the other room Hank is still visibly upset with his father. But when Cotton comes and asks for a family photo to show Michiko, Hank realizes that if Cotton is going to show Michiko a picture of Hank and his family Cotton may have good intentions after all and follows after him. After catching up with Cotton at an apartment building, they encourage him to go for it. After Cotton knocks on the door a man who look almost exactly like Hank but with Japanese features comes out. Surprised at how they both look alike, Hank and the strange man both scream out "Bwaaaaaah!" simultaneously.
Luanne is put in charge of babysitting Ladybird while the Hills are away, and Dale is in charge of collecting the newspapers. At Luanne's home, Luanne brings Ladybird a snack. But when a sleeping Ladybird doesn't respond, Luanne believes the dog to be dead and runs out crying. Luanne comes back with a new bloodhound to replace Ladybird, but when she removes the collers from both dogs, Ladybird jumps up and begins playing with the other bloodhound confusing Luanne who now can't tell which dog is which. At the Hill Residence, Dale retrieves a newspaper from Hank's lawn as he was instructed. But both Dale and Bill soon believe the house is vulnerable to robbery, so they decide to break-in and occupy the house to keep it safe, which eventually leads them to drink Hanks beer and wear Hank and Peggy's clothing.
- See the next story: Returning Japanese II
- Hank Hill
- Peggy Hill
- Bobby Hill
- Luanne Platter
- Dale Gribble
- Nancy Gribble
- Jeff Boomhauer
- Bill Dauterive
- Kahn Souphanousinphone
- Minh Souphanousinphone
- Connie Souphanousinphone
- Cotton Hill
- Didi Hill
- John Redcorn
- Junichiro (cameo)
- Michiko (cameo)
- Buck Strickland
- Joe Jack
- Stuart Dooley
- Clark Peters
- Japanese Hotel Service Man (guest)
- Japanese Girl (guest)
- Japanese Hotel Valet: "The cologne has displeased you."
- The dance game that Bobby and the school girl played in the arcade is a reference to Dance Dance Revolution, a popular music-dance game originating from Japan
- The film Pearl Harbor was a 2001 war-drama film that starred Ben Affleck and Kate Beckinsale.
- It is unknown what became of the second bloodhound whom was presumably male as it was seen trying to mount Ladybird at one point.
- The Japanese soldiers Cotton sees in his hallucinations appear to be zombies.
- Though Hank and his half-brother look alike in this episode, since they supposedly share the same father, this would be extremely unlikely considering Hank's appearance is strikingly similar to his mother's - not Cotton's. Since Junichiro is Cotton's son, and not Hank's mom's, his features would not be identical to Hank's. Junichirio would also be several years older than Hank, but appears younger.
- The title is a reference to the song "Turning Japanese" by The Vapors.
- The song that plays on the car ride to the hotel after the Hills arrive in Japan is "Kimono Beat" by Seiko Matsuda.
- In the flashback sequence in which Cotton explains his affair with a Japanese nurse who worked at the clinic where he was recovering, there is a scene which shows Cotton being dragged by MPs aboard a ship bound for America. On the stern we see the name of the ship as the Lane Victory which in fact is a real Liberty Ship from WWII that was fully restored and takes passengers on tour trips around Catalina Island in California from her dock in San Pedro.
- Peggy says she could get airline tickets from her job at the newspaper to go to Jamaica to investigate "Rastafarian gangs". Rastafarianism is a peaceful spiritual/religious movement that has nothing to do with gang culture.
- Hank claims that Cotton is too short to ride Six Flags roller coasters. He is five feet tall (60"); in reality, no Six Flags ride has a height limit taller than 54", with most rides having an even shorter height limit.