Arama They Didn't

9:43 am - 10/31/2013

‘Rental Friend’ service becoming more popular for socially awkward Japanese


As Japan grows more mobile and “addicted” to all digital and online activities, there has been a growing problem of loneliness and alienation, especially among young people. This has prompted a slew of services targeting those who have no social skills to make new friends in what has been called the “rental friend” phenomenon.

A recent article on Yahoo Japan detailing the “date” between a 35-year-old man and the girl he “rents” to be his friend. Netizens of course had a field day with the article, with some comparing the service to that of hiring a prostitute. But some also were quick to emphasize that this was not paying for sex, but only for companionship. The man featured in the article says that availing of a “Rental Friend” has helped him with his social anxiety and having a “girlfriend” to talk to has improved the quality of his life. He says at first he was reluctant to try paying for someone to keep him company, but after trying it out, he says he can “can forget the disagreeable parts.”

The girl mentioned in the article is part of one of the “Rental Friend” companies that feature “female-only” handymen that cater to “client partners” in Eastern Japan. Customers pay as much as 40,000 yen (over $400) just for one day with these “friends,” and you can take them shopping, drinking, eating and even just talking with them, which apparently is a popular “service” that those who pay for these companions avail of. Netizens said this was “embarrassing”, “sad” and will only make the person renting the friend feel worse about themselves.


buyme_arashi 31st-Oct-2013 04:39 am (UTC)
I say why not. Whatever helps them come over their anxiety. Its like a form of therapy, maybe helped coaching them on how to interact in a real relationship in the future. Having the experience, even if ithe companionship is superficial, helps build confidence for the socially awkward.

And I would like to see a movie or drama out of this starring Nino as the friend for hire. Hehe.

(Meoin-kun, love your new icon. Mgirl Aiba <3. I wonder if M for Mgirl stands for Mika Ninagawa...)

Edited at 2013-10-31 04:44 am (UTC)
meoinkie2 31st-Oct-2013 05:41 am (UTC)
as soon as i saw the scans this particular shot caught my attention immediately, everything is beautiful ♥. thanks bb! (is it alr 2 call u that? :P)
Mika does editing works for MGirl, though i also don't know the meaning of M xD
buyme_arashi 2nd-Nov-2013 03:12 am (UTC)
You can call me anything :DDDDDD ♥
He's been seriously hot in some recent magz but Mgirl has been really great with him. Mika Ninigawa sounds like she's pretty fond of him in the interview.
xanithofdragons 31st-Oct-2013 02:07 pm (UTC)
I agree. There are already plenty of services that offer companionship like this, so people should already be used to reading about things like it, and if it actually helps a person overcome their social awkwardness, isn't that a good thing?
hpswf1 31st-Oct-2013 07:14 am (UTC)
Few days ago saw coverage about similar service in Russia x)
mrstaguchi100 31st-Oct-2013 09:46 am (UTC)
Am I the only one who kind of wants to try this just for the hell of it?
xanithofdragons 31st-Oct-2013 02:07 pm (UTC)
I think that for a lot of these "companionship" services. xD
koichiko 31st-Oct-2013 10:45 am (UTC)
Don't knock it will you've tried it.
Social anxiety is a real issue and if this is a way for these people to feel better about themselves and maybe to tackle their anxieties in their own way - more power to them.
soundczech 31st-Oct-2013 11:33 am (UTC)
I totally agree. Anything that helps people feel more comfortable should not be mocked. Actually when I was teaching English one-on-one in Tokyo a lot of people with severe social anxiety would come in for lessons at our school. Eventually I heard that a lot of therapists recommended us to their clients as a way of overcoming their fears. So I guess we were like rent-a-friends. I always thought those clients were really brave. You could see it actually did really help a lot of people, too - what's scarier than having to talk to a stranger in English? I think after that a lot of normal every day interactions would seem easier.
xanithofdragons 31st-Oct-2013 02:09 pm (UTC)
After learning Japanese, I agree that learning a foreign language definitely helps social anxiety or general social awkwardness. Because if you can learn to communicate with people in a foreign language, communicating in your native language doesn't seem like as much of a challenge anymore.
thewarpedmelody 31st-Oct-2013 02:04 pm (UTC)
Well I would say at least they're meeting people in real life, having some real-life human interaction is always better than just having behind-the-screen interaction with online friends. Who knows? Maybe a friendship will blossomed out of these meetings?

Edited at 2013-10-31 02:05 pm (UTC)
xanithofdragons 31st-Oct-2013 02:11 pm (UTC)
In a way this doesn't sound all that different from hosts or hostesses. You're paying to talk and spend some time with a person, and I say that to say that I don't think a service like this is all that unusual. It seems like there are articles about similar services that offer companionship like, once every year at least, so I don't think it's anything to gawk at anymore.
impatiences 1st-Nov-2013 02:55 am (UTC)
I'm cool with this, but I'm concerned about the chance of girls getting nabbed or raped when sent out to spend time with a client. But that concerns me about all of Japan's female-based "rental" services.
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