Now I wonder if they have a rent an enemy so I can practice hating someone. I need practice confronting people I don't like.
Rent-a-friend in Japan
In Japan, now back in recession, the economic
situation has taken a sharp turn for the worse in recent months. But the
Japanese still like to use their money to have fun, as Duncan Bartlett has been
Lola - or Rora - to give her a slightly more Japanese
pronounciation - is a beauty and she knows it.
Customers pay by the hour for
her company. Usually they just want to stroke her, but as a special treat for
favoured clients, she will lie back in a chair, close her eyes and pose for
Lola is a Persian cat who works at the Ja La La Cafe in Tokyo's
bustling Akihabara district. It is one of a growing number of Cat Cafes in the
city which provide visitors with short but intimate encounters with professional
When I called, there were 12 felines and seven customers, mostly
One man, in his early 30s, was attempting to bond with an
Oriental Longhair by means of a rubber mouse.
Yutsuke, who speaks with a
lisp, is normally rather shy with people. He longs for a cat of his own but
frequent business trips make that difficult. Besides, he lives alone, so the Ja
La La is his solution to the problem.
The right pet
It costs about £8
($10) an hour to spend time in a Cat Cafe.
If felines do not appeal, other
establishments will rent you a rabbit, a ferret or even a beetle.
more than 150 companies in Tokyo which are licensed to hire out animals of
various kinds and although beetles may be cheap, dogs much more popular.
First you pay a deposit and a hire fee. Then you are issued with a leash,
some tissues and a plastic bag and given some advice on how to handle your new
Kaori is a pretty waitress who regularly spends her Sunday
afternoons with a Labrador. They go for a walk in the park if the weather is
fine, or if it is wet they just snuggle up in front of the TV in her apartment.
"When I look into his eyes, I think he's my dog," Kaori told me. "But when I
take him back to the shop, he runs away from me and starts wagging his tail when
he sees the next customer. That's when I know he's only a rental dog."
Of course, it is not only animals whose loyalties can be
decided by money, as people who work in Japan's vast entertainment business will
The industry offers an enormous variety of opportunities to
exchange money for company.
Very popular at the moment is the Campus Cafe,
where men go to socialise with female university students. It is cheaper than
the upscale hostess clubs in which businessmen and politicians drink whisky with
women in kimonos, although that is a business which is in crisis because of the
Only a small proportion of the trade involves sex. Most hostesses
are flatterers not prostitutes and customers come to find comfort in their
words, not in their arms.
One specialist agency is known as Hagemashi Tai,
which translates as I Want To Cheer Up Limited. It rents relatives.
are despatched to play the part of distant relations at weddings and funerals.
For an extra fee, they will even give a speech.
But the firm's services do
not stop there. It can also provide temporary husbands to single mothers who
The website says the "dad" will help the children with their
homework. He will sort out problems with the neighbours.
He will take the
kids to a barbeque or to a park. He could also appear at the daunting interview
with a nursery school head teacher which parents are required to endure in order
to persuade the principal to give their child a good start in life.
There is a service for women who are about to wed too. Apparently, they
can practice for married life with a hired husband, although whether this
involves seduction or sock washing is not exactly clear.
And if things are
not working out with a real husband, a woman considering a divorce may choose to
hire a "mother" in order to discuss her marital anxieties.
Mr M.O. from
Shizuoka near Mount Fuji called upon the services of I Want To Cheer Up Ltd
because he needed a father.
Mr M.O. has been blind since birth and had a
number of concerns that he felt he could not speak to others about.
it all inside and couldn't deal with the criticisms that had been directed at me
by my parents and teachers," he testified.
After some discussion, the
company sent an older man to have dinner with him. "Usually I can't open up when
I meet someone for the first time but on that occasion, I felt I was really
talking with a normal father. I'll use the service again," he said.
Loneliness is a problem faced by many people on these crowded islands. But
the Japanese are prone to believe that, in the right circumstances, money can
turn a stranger into a friend... at least for a couple of hours.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
I like reading the BBC website, they just have really wierd feature stories. I love their stories from Japan. The Japanese just do the darnest things and they actually have a working economy around all these wierd stuff such as this article below: