Meet the Japanese man who rents himself out to 'do nothing'

STORY: This Japanese man rents himself out to 'do nothing.'

For the price of 10,000 yen – or roughly $70 – Morimoto will offer his companionship,

to attend events, dine with clients and sometimes provide a listening ear.

[Shoji Morimoto, Rental-do-nothing-man]

"I am the 'Rental-Do-Nothing-Man'. I provide a service where I can be rented to do nothing. This 'Do-Nothing-Man' is me and I rent myself out. I go to places where I am asked to, and I do nothing there."

It may be a niche service but Morimoto is in high demand.

He says he can sometimes schedule up to three assignments a day

and says he’s been hired over 4,000 times since launching his business on Twitter in 2018.

Roughly a quarter of his clients are repeat customers, including a woman who has hired him 270 times.

[Shoji Morimoto, Rental-do-nothing-man]

"What I mean by doing nothing is, I eat and drink with my clients, and I answer their simple questions with simple answers."

One such client is Aruna Chida, who found out about Morimoto when his business was trending on social media.

[Aruna Chida, Data analyst]

"When I’m with my friends, I kind of feel like I have to entertain them. But with 'Mr. Rental' I feel like I don't have to say much and I can just keep quiet."

Another client – nicknamed ‘Kusa’ - said she was feeling down due to work.

She hired Morimoto in 2020 to accompany her for a curry, while she was dressed in a Pikachu costume.

She then hired him again a second time to listen to her life story.

[Kusa, Public servant]

"It was hard for me to ask my friends to join me dressed up as Pikachu and eat curry. This is a quite a difficult thing to do."

Rental services like this are not unheard of in Japan.

Through agencies you can rent actors to be your friend or even your entire family.

Morimoto says his ‘effort-free’ approach makes his offer unique, as he’s not playing any specific role.

His rising popularity though has attracted some requests that he's turned down.

One client for example wanted to take him to Trinidad and Tobago, while another asked him to move a fridge.

Why has his service become so popular?

Morimoto thinks his clients take comfort from the ‘temporal relationship' they have with him.

He says people will often hesitate to ask friends or families for favors,

because they feel like they have to do something in return for the sake of the relationship.

Morimoto also believes his work can change the societal attitude

that people need to be doing something productive in order to feel valued.

Sometimes, he says, just showing up for people and being there can be valuable too.