Shoji Morimoto charges $102 per reservation to accompany customers and simply exist as a companion in Tokyo
Shoji Morimoto has what some consider a dream job: he gets paid to do nothing.
The 38-year-old Tokyo resident charges 10,000 yen ($102) per reservation to accompany customers and simply exist as a companion.
“Basically, I rent myself. My job is to be where my clients want me to be and not do anything in particular,” Mr Morimoto told Reuters, adding that he had handled some 4,000 sessions over the course of of the last four years.
With a lanky build and average appearance, Mr Morimoto now has nearly a quarter of a million followers on Twitter, where he finds most of his customers.
About a quarter of them are regular customers, including one who has hired him 270 times.
His job took him to a park with someone who wanted to play on a swing. He also beamed and waved through a train window at a complete stranger who wanted a ride.
While such rental services are not unheard of in Japan – there are agencies where one can hire actors to be your friend or even an entire family – Mr. Morimoto’s differentiating factor is his “no-nonsense” approach. effort”, without playing any specific role.
“What I mean by doing nothing is that I eat and drink [with my clients]and I answer their simple questions with simple answers,” Morimoto said.
But doing nothing does not mean Mr. Morimoto will do anything. He refused offers to move a fridge “because it involved physical work”, a trip to Cambodia, and does not accept any requests of a sexual nature.
Last week, Mr Morimoto sat across from Aruna Chida, a 27-year-old data analyst dressed in a sari, having a sparse conversation over tea and cake.
Ms Chida wanted to wear the Indian dress in public but feared it would embarrass her friends. So she turned to Mr. Morimoto for companionship.
“With my friends, I feel that I have to entertain them, but with the renter [Mr Morimoto] I don’t feel the need to be talkative,” she said.
Before Mr Morimoto found his true calling, he worked in a publishing house and was often chastised for “doing nothing”.
“I started wondering what would happen if I provided my ability to ‘do nothing’ as a service to customers,” he said.
The companionship business is now Mr. Morimoto’s only source of income, on which he supports his wife and child.
Although he declined to divulge how much he earned, he said he sees about one or two clients a day. Before the pandemic, it was three or four a day.
As he spent a Wednesday doing nothing remarkable in Tokyo, Mr Morimoto reflected on the bizarre nature of his job and seemed to question a society that values productivity and scoffs at pointlessness.
“People tend to think my ‘doing nothing’ is valuable because it’s helpful (for others)… But it’s okay to do nothing. People don’t need to be helpful d ‘a specific way,’ he said.