Ossan Rental: Say Goodbye to Solitude

Sep 4, 2019 | Biz, Culture, Japan, News

East Asia DeskKari.Amarnani author

Apparently, you can pretty much rent anything in Japan, even humans

Finding time to socialize and meet people can be an impossible task especially with the obligations, time restraints and the complexities of life people are burdened with on a daily basis. And even when we do feel good and decide to get out in the world, the mere thought of interaction with other humans can be intimidating as hell sometimes. It would certainly be nice to conveniently have a plus one without going through the drudgery of human contact— and Ossan Rental specializes in just that.

Need a date to a family function so no one harasses you about your singlehood? Need a friend to watch that up-and-coming movie with? Dealing with the loss of a loved one and need some company and affection to get you through the night? Ossan Rental has got you covered in all your social needs. For ¥1,000 per hour (travel time included), you can rent a partner, friend, child, parent, wife, husband— whatever suits your fancy. Any event that you need them for, they are ready to play the part. But uh uh uh, no touching which also entails no erotic requests and activities. And please do not try to sell them anything. Not only is it prohibited, it ain’t fun. Other than that, go nuts!

Uncle for Rent - Screenshot

Roots to Branches: Ossan Rental’s Growth as an Industry

The owner of Ossan Rental, Takanobu Nishimoto, takes his business seriously. For the first three years, Nishimoto was the only ‘ossan’ permitted to interact with clients. Many of the clients are women and it is imperative that they receive proper treatment that aligns with the code of ethics and policies of the company. To be liable for the mistakes of somebody else was not a part of his plan. Though noble and practical of him to front this arrangement, it also occurred to Nishimoto that his clients may want options. He began to gradually add more ossans to the roster, but not without extensive background checks and multiple hour-long interviews. Only one in 50 applicants make the cut so rest assured, credibility and safety are never amiss.

By 2016, the business was getting a thousand requests for ossans yearly and the number continued to grow. Since Nishimoto’s start in 2012, he has had a total of approximately 1,500 clients enlisted only for him. 60% are repeat customers that are basically fans that can’t get enough of him. He’s definitely made a name for himself. Nishimoto has been outspoken about some of the unusual requests he’s been hired for and they range from outright strange all the way to profound. With all that experience and knowledge of the craft, he has mastered the art of interaction. Fortunately, he’s willing to share. You may visit the website to buy his book, Diary of a Rental Ossan

Company for Hire: More Real Than You Think

Paying somebody to spend time with you can feel a little odd, yes, and this does beg an important question. Is any of it real? Here’s the answer. Absolutely. It is not merely about the activity done together with the ossan. It is about what lies deeper. 

Nishimoto stated in an interview that some of the requests for Ossan Rental transcend run-of-the-mill needs. And they will make you reach for tissues. These requests include a woman having suicidal tendencies that needs someone to listen to her and talk her out of it. A woman that loves spicy food but had no friends, so she hires someone to enjoy and eat spicy food with her. A woman who was told that she did not have much time to live and could no longer eat her favorite food hires someone to eat the food in front of her, just so she can see someone enjoying it. A widow that had just lost her husband rents an ossan so she has someone to talk to.

Hiring people may feel transactional. But the emotions and the growth that comes out of it are all too real. If it gets people through the day, if it makes life and existence a bit easier to deal with— how could it be a bad thing? The means justify the ends. And someone feeling a little less alone in this big, strange world is a priceless kind of warmth.

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