The Booming Japanese Rent-A-Friend Business
Yuichi: I played a father for a 12-year-old with a single mother. The girl was bullied because she didn’t have a dad, so the mother rented me. I’ve acted as the girl’s father ever since. I am the only real father that she knows.
Morin: And this is ongoing?
Yuichi: Yes, I’ve been seeing her for eight years. She just graduated high school.
Morin: Does she understand that you’re not her real father?
Yuichi: No, the mother hasn’t told her.
Morin: How do you think she would feel if she discovered the truth?
Yuichi: I think she would be shocked.
November 9th, 2017 10:50am
acting, or do the feelings ever become real?
Yuichi: It’s a business. I’m not going to be her father for 24 hours. It’s a set time. When I am acting with her, I don't really feel that I love her, but when the session is over and I have to go, I do feel a little sad. The kids cry sometimes. They say, “Why do you have to leave?” In those instances, I feel very sorry that I’m faking it—very guilty.
November 9th, 2017 10:55am
> Morin: Does she understand that you’re not her real father?
> Yuichi: No, the mother hasn’t told her.
What could possibly go wrong?
I suppose if the mother continues to pay for these services all will be fine? He'll walk her down the aisle at the wedding, be there when she gives birth, etc. All fake but best she doesn't know.
Now if the mother stops paying for these services, she will destroy her child.
So it's a good deal for the rent-a-dad. The clients can't fire him.
November 9th, 2017 11:27am
> Yuichi: Imagine there’s a married couple, and the wife cheats on the husband. When that happens, the husband often demands a confrontation with the other man. Naturally, this can be difficult to arrange, because the man usually runs away. In that case, they bring me instead.
Oh boy, this guy is quite a daredevil. How does he make sure that... oh I see...
> Morin: What happens then?
> Yuichi: We follow the company manual. In this specific case use psychology to determine the optimal outcome. The approach is to make me look, with tattoos and fashion, like a yakuza. I arrive with the wife, and the husband is there. I will just bow then deeply apologize. The husband will then berate me. However, because I appear to be a yakuza, he won’t pursue the matter further.
November 9th, 2017 12:10pm
I know a lot about Japanese culture, have Japanese friends and family members, and have been to Japan.
So I thought I knew what this article was going to say. But it went beyond that and surprised me.
The Yakuza ploy is brilliant, and totally nuts, but not really, it's an engineered creative solution to a problem, something Japanese are quite good at coming up with. The whole thing seems on the surface to be insanity, but is actually rational, logical and pragmatic.
> Morin: What is your favorite role?
> Yuichi: When I have to be a groom. There are situations where parents pressure a daughter to marry—if she’s a lesbian, for example. So, they have an entire wedding, and it’s a fake wedding, except for the client’s family. The friends, and everyone else are fake. My side is all fake. Fifty fake people all pretending it’s real. The cost is 2 million yen, for everyone.
And then what happens? Well presumably the daughter moves off with the husband and that's the end of it, she's really living with her girlfriend. But the family doesn't bother her. Because privacy.
November 9th, 2017 12:17pm
2,000,000 Japanese yen = 17649 USD
Pretty good deal considering how much a lot of Japanese weddings cost ($31k is average but can be much higher).
November 9th, 2017 12:19pm
Yuichi: I believe the term “real” is misguided. Take Facebook, for example. Is that real? Even if the people in the pictures haven’t been paid, everything is curated to such an extent that it hardly matters.
That is an interesting point and it's a terrible problem with Facebook. That's why I prefer to hang out places like here, where I can interact with real people and get to know them. None of that crazy fake FaceBook stuff.
November 9th, 2017 12:35pm
"Yuichi: We follow the company manual. In this specific case use psychology to determine the optimal outcome. The approach is to make me look, with tattoos and fashion, like a yakuza. I arrive with the wife, and the husband is there. I will just bow then deeply apologize. The husband will then berate me. However, because I appear to be a yakuza, he won’t pursue the matter further."
I wonder what the real Yakuza thinks about such impersonators.
November 9th, 2017 3:10pm
They are a professional business so I'm sure they have licensed the Yakuda look for this limited purpose.
November 9th, 2017 3:37pm
Oh, that's not very smart of Yakuza to diffuse their brand in this way.
November 9th, 2017 3:42pm
On the contrary, Yakuza like the US Mafia once did, have moved to legitimate business. For example, they ran that nuclear power plant, Fukushima. Made a lot of money there.
Currently Yakuza do not offer rent-a-gangster for entertainment purposes. So it makes sense to license it to others. Outsource that viable business.
November 9th, 2017 4:07pm
Based on the heartlessness of this guy's business, chanced are he *is* Yakuza.
November 9th, 2017 9:42pm
That is very insightful. Company policy is that he needs to make himself look Yakuza to handle this situation. Perhaps for him the process to look Yakuza was very simple since he already was one.
November 9th, 2017 10:11pm
On the other hand most of what he said was the sort of outlandish stuff I'd expect from someone that was completely trolling his interviewer and taking the piss.
With the Japanese, a society where they have a holiday that involves crowds carrying enormous ancient wooden carved penises around town, it's hard to tell if they are serious.
November 9th, 2017 10:15pm
November 9th, 2017 10:16pm