How valuable is basic companionship? That might sound like an unanswerable question, but for Shoji Morimoto, the answer is 10,000 Japanese yen, or about $95 USD. That's what Morimoto charges for a "session," which amounts to two or three hours of his companionship.
Morimoto, 37, has been renting himself out in Tokyo since 2018, and business is booming. Although he describes his job as "doing nothing," the demands on his time range from just sitting and listening to a client talk to accompanying them to a movie or even Disneyland. Listening is a big part of the job, but he's also done things such as accompanying a client to divorce proceedings or posing for Instagram photos. "I think the reason why people demand my services depends on the customer’s circumstances," he said. "I think it comes down to needing ‘the presence of one human being’ in a given situation."
Morimoto, who is married and used to work in publishing, estimates that he has had about 3,000 requests since starting his rental business, plus he has 260,000 Twitter followers. Not only is it a living, but Morimoto says he loves his job. "I used to carry around this complex, that I need to do something, but I’m not good at anything," he said. "I tried a bunch of things that I thought I’d be suitable for, but nothing stuck. So I thought, 'I’m not suited to do anything, maybe I’m more suited to do nothing.'"
The facts of friendship:
- On average, each person makes about 400 friends in a lifetime, but only one in 12 lasts.
- A study found that close friendships are less common today than 20 years ago, with almost 25 percent of respondents saying they had no close friends.
- People over the age of 70 have a 22 percent higher survival rate when they have a strong network of friends.