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A Japanese man who made a living from letting people rent him to do absolutely nothing says he now does it for fun

Kwan Wei Kevin Tan   

A Japanese man who made a living from letting people rent him to do absolutely nothing says he now does it for fun
  • Shoji Morimoto started a "rental person" service in 2018, where he's hired to do absolutely nothing.
  • The introvert said the job gave him a "similar kind of passive entertainment" as watching TV.

Shoji Morimoto has an interesting occupation: He rents himself out to clients who want him to do absolutely nothing.

Morimoto, who began his "rental person" service in 2018, said he'd been hired more than 4,000 times. His assignments have varied from the banal to the bizarre.

Once, a woman asked Morimoto to watch her search for a husband on matchmaking sites. He recounted the gig in his memoir, "Rental Person Who Does Nothing," a translation of which hit bookstores in the US on January 9.

"She screamed (like in her DM) every 10 minutes or so. At one stage, she made a mistake with an app, clicking 'Like' for a man she wanted to skip through. She stared up at the ceiling and looked very upset," Morimoto wrote.

"I had a great afternoon tea and really enjoyed myself," he added.

Morimoto said in his memoir that he once accompanied a client to file their divorce papers. He was also hired to bid someone farewell at a railway station and once waited for a client at a marathon finishing line.

"It's like watching TV. A lot of people find TV boring, but I like it," Morimoto said in his memoir.

"Do-nothing Rental gives me a similar kind of passive entertainment, even though, in this case, I'm the service provider rather than the service user," he said.

That said, there are certain assignments he wouldn't accept.

Morimoto, who is married with a child, once turned down a client who asked to have sex with him.

"I've turned down a number of requests to go to pop concerts too," he wrote. "I don't know much about music, and most of the concerts I've been asked to go along to have been by artists I've never heard of."

He added: "At first, I thought it might be fun, but it wasn't really — if you're not interested, you're not interested."

Morimoto believes the job is a great fit for his introverted personality.

"The client wants to do something, and I just go along. No deep commitment is expected and no personality required," he wrote in his memoir.

"It's funny that someone like Rental Person should be in demand. I suppose you could say my lack of individuality has become my 'product,'" he said.

His eccentric calling has earned him criticism. He said people had called him "a new-age gigolo" or "a new-age beggar." But Morimoto doesn't feel offended by those labels.

"I think being a gigolo or beggar are potential ways of relating to people, and the word 'new' sounds good, so I feel quite positive about these comments," he wrote in his memoir.

Morimoto used to charge 10,000 Japanese yen, or about $68, per booking, Reuters reported in September 2022.

In September, he said he no longer charged his clients and would just accept reimbursement for travel expenses and the food and drink consumed during the session.

"At the moment, I'm living on savings. What I do isn't really a business. Maybe it's best to think of it as something I'm doing for fun (like a trip abroad I've saved up for)," he wrote on X.

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