The Japanese ‘rent men’ who are paid just to listen
Anyone in need of company can sign up to an online service to rent an “ossan” — that is a man aged between 45 and 55 — for 1,000 yen ($10) an hour.
The rent men lend an ear to clients across Japan who would never ever open up to a therapist or worse still, their families.
Those who use the service say it allows them to forget the expectations of their family and friends and speak freely — in a country where social norms govern what can and cannot be said even with close associates.
In recent years, a number of agencies have offered “rent-a-friend” services paid by the hour. Customers can hire an agency employee who plays the role of a friend, family member, or companion for various occasions such as weddings, funerals and parties.