Loneliness and alienation among young people is an ongoing social problem in Japan.
Last winter, we brought you an article that described lonely university students eating lunch alone in bathrooms and paying for companionship. Since then, the “rental friend” phenomenon has continued at full speed, and a recent article provides a detailed description of a 35-year-old man’s outings in Tokyo with a girlfriend that he rents once a month.
The article outlines a weekend day the two spent together and describes how having access to a “Rental Friend” service has helped the man with social anxiety and improved his quality of life. However, it also includes the monetary details of the relationship: customers pay as much as 40,000 yen (over $400) for a day of companionship. 2ch netizens were quick to draw parallels to the sex industry, and many expressed shock at the high prices.
From Yahoo! Japan:
Rent A Friend/Girlfriend, Satisfy Your Heart – Meal and Conversation…
There are shops I want to go to, but it’s discouraging to go alone. I want to talk to someone, but I don’t have a companion. Hoping to fill in the gaps in the hearts of people like that, a service called “Rental Friend” was born.
■ Over 40,000 Yen for 11 Hours
On September 8, all of Japan was excited about the Tokyo Olympics decision.
A man heads toward Tokyo by car from his home in northern Kanto. He is 35 years old and unmarried. His monthly “modest amusement” begins.
11 a.m. in front of a Western clothes shop. The appointment is always at this place and this time. He picks up the girl waiting there and heads toward Akihabara.
The girl, who knew that he likes professional wrestling, looks for a shop, and together they browse the masks and T-shirts. He’s shy and doesn’t call her by her name. Nevertheless, he speaks about his personal worries:
“My mother says she’s been hospitalized.”
”Oh, really? You must be worried.”
Lunch is curry. They tour the shops, and as they leave an art gallery at the end, it’s pouring rain. He holds an umbrella to keep the girl from getting wet.
At 7 pm, it’s time to part ways. He hands her the 31,000 yen from his wallet, and starts on his way back home.
This girl is a “Rental Friend.” She’s one member of the staff of “female-only handymen,” with a base of “client partners” focused on Eastern Japan.
It was last spring that the man called this company. He began to talk about his breakup with his girlfriend two years before. He had persisted with repeated phone calls and visits to her house. He even got a warning from the police. “At this rate, we’ll arrest you.” During this time of time of trouble, he heard about the company on TV.
”I started using the service, and I changed. I played billiards and darts for the first time, and played catch in the park. I was thinking about my ex-girlfriend less.”
He wakes up at 6 in the morning and works with machines in a factory. He returns home around 8 pm, and just goes to sleep. He has weak social skills, and can’t drink alcohol. Into that daily life, a transformation was born.
When he toured the sight-seeing areas of Yokohama, she was by his side for 11 hours. The payment was over 40,000 yen.
At first, he was opposed to the idea of paying someone to be his companion. “But when we go all these places together and she listens to my worries, I can forget the disagreeable parts. I’ve begun to think that this is good.” He says that at work he’s starting to be told, “You aren’t getting angry anymore these days.”
Comments from 2ch.net:
True loners wouldn’t be able to do something this embarassing.
Even if you do this, you’ll become even more empty and just collapse in self-loathing. w
I want to see the faces of the assholes who use this kind of service!
Isn’t a massage from a high-school girl better and cheaper?
How is this different from escorts in the sex industry?
For 31,000 yen, i’d rather get jerked off at a Soapland.
This will probably end when some jerk misunderstands and causes an incident. This has even more bad taste than an ear-cleaning parlor.
Paying in cash would make me sad, so let’s just make it an account debit.
It’s too bad, but your real intentions show through your behavior. You assholes can’t bear a natural rejection.
I don’t necessarily want to have sex, but this is good news for me since I was paying a lot to talk to girls in the sex industry.
This probably isn’t feasible. Bastards without friends don’t have any money.
This sort of thing isn’t necessary for true loners. Instead, they find spending time with someone annoying.
How much does touching cost?
Even if you only use it on the weekends, it’s 40,000 yen a month?… Guys who have friends or a girlfriend get all that stuff for free.
This is true at cabarets and stuff too, but what’s fun about talking to someone who is entertaining for money?
Well, I think it’s weird that she’s your girlfriend but you can’t have sex with her.
How much for sex?
I’m fine with sticking to two dimensions.
He brags to his rented friends about his rented girlfriend.