A man who makes a living by renting himself out “to do nothing” has garnered an enormous following online and thousands of clients.
For 10,000 yen (£70) - plus expenses for travels and meals - anyone can rent Shoji Morimoto, 37, from Tokyo in Japan, but he will not do anything except “eat, drink and give a simple response”.
Morimoto first offered his services in June 2018 after posting a tweet that read: “I offer myself for rent, as a person who does nothing. Is it difficult for you to enter a shop on your own? Are you missing a player on your team? Do you need someone to keep a place for you? I can’t do anything except easy things.”
Although originally offering his services for free, Morimoto now charges to reduce the volume of requests and to discourage time-wasters, and says he sees three or four clients a day - and 3,000 since he first launched his services.
People rent him for various reasons, he says, but most are bored or lonely and simply want to be listened to.
He has been hired to have lunch, pose for photographs on Instagram, accompany someone filing for divorce, catch butterflies in the park and to listen to health care workers struggling with their work.
One man hired him to describe a murder he had committed, while another paid Morimoto to take him from the hospital to revisit the spot where he had attempted suicide.
Morimoto - who is married and holds a postgraduate degree in physics from Osaka University - told The Mainichi newspaper: “I’m not a friend or an acquaintance. I’m free of the annoying things that go with relationships but I can ease people’s feelings of loneliness."
“I personally don’t like being cheered on by other people. It bothers me when people simply tell me to keep persevering. When someone is trying to do something I think the best thing to do is to make it easier for them by staying at their side,” he added.
In less than three years Morimoto - who used to work in publishing but quit to “do nothing” - has published books about his career choice, inspired a television drama and acquired 270,000 Twitter followers.
One of his clients posted online: “I'm glad I was able to take a walk with someone while keeping a comfortable distance, where we didn't have to talk but could if we wanted to.”
While another wrote: "I had been slack about visiting the hospital, but I went because he came with me."
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