A Japanese man who began renting himself out to “do nothing” with strangers now has hundreds of thousands of online followers and thousands of former clients.
Shoji Morimoto, a 38-year-old man from Tokyo, started working in the “Rent-a-Person” industry for free when he first posted his services on Twitter in 2018, The Independent reported.
Before earning money by “doing nothing,” Morimoto worked for a publisher in Japan. He eventually left the company after having trouble fitting in, The Mainichi reported. It also did not help that his boss allegedly said, “It doesn’t matter if you’re here or not.”
He eventually started charging for his services as a way to ward off people who might waste his time. Morimoto charges his clients 10,000 yen (approximately $87), plus travel and meal expenses, and only takes three to four clients per day.
Morimoto, a married man who studied physics for his postgraduate degree from Osaka University, offers a wide range of services. Some of the activities he has been rented for include sharing meals, catching butterflies and accompanying a spouse filing for divorce. Morimoto emphasized, however, that he does not exert any effort aside from eating, drinking and giving basic responses. He has reportedly declined several requests, including cleaning houses, doing laundry, posing nude and becoming a client’s friend.
“I lend myself out to do nothing, which means I don’t make any special effort,” he told CBS News. “I don’t initiate conversation. I reply to chitchat, but that’s it.”
“People use me in different ways,” Morimoto added. “Some people are lonesome. Some feel it’s a shame to go somewhere (interesting) alone — they want someone to share their impressions with. What’s amazing is the huge variety of personalities, circumstances and situations. That’s striking to me almost every day.”
One of Morimoto’s regulars, a 36-year-old writer, has described some of the activities she has done while renting him. She shared with The Mainichi that Morimoto once listened to her recount the time she went undercover at a women’s adult entertainment shop for her work.
“He listened to me without shaming me about going to the adult entertainment shop,” she said. “It felt like a support to just have him by my side without forcing his opinions on me.”
Despite receiving “words of gratitude” from some of his clients, the “Do Nothing Rent-a-Man” does not want his services to “be seen as an act of charity” or a form of support.
“I’m not a friend or an acquaintance. I’m free of the bothersome things that accompany relationships, but can ease people’s sense of loneliness. Maybe it’s something like that for me,” he said.
Morimoto now has over 238,000 followers on Twitter and has had over 3,000 clients since he began his business in 2018.