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In Japan, $9 an Hour Gets You a Middle-Aged Companion for Multiple Roles

Unconventional Business: Takanobu Nishimoto’s “Ossan Rental”

Takanobu Nishimoto, a 50-year-old fashion consultant, has been running an unconventional business from his home in Tokyo since 2012. His online service, known as “Ossan Rental,” provides an intriguing twist to the concept of rental services.

The World of “Ossan” Rental

“Ossan,” a somewhat derogatory term referring to middle-aged men or uncles in Japan, is at the heart of Nishimoto’s venture. For a mere 1,000 Japanese yen or $8.89 per hour, clients can engage the services of a middle-aged man who is willing to listen to their concerns, assist with household chores, or even offer valuable life advice.

Breaking Stereotypes and Challenging Perceptions

Nishimoto’s motivation for launching this unique service was to challenge the negative stereotypes often associated with Japanese ‘uncles.’ These stereotypes typically include receding hairlines, beer bellies, and unhygienic habits. “Ossan Rental” aims to break down these preconceived notions and showcase the multifaceted abilities of middle-aged men.

Catering to Diverse Client Needs

Surprisingly, the clientele for “Ossan Rental” defies expectations. While Nishimoto initially anticipated young men seeking advice to be the primary users, it turns out that women ranging from their twenties to their fifties make up a significant portion of the clientele. Their requests vary widely, from seeking guidance on career and love to desiring companionship at events or in social settings. Moreover, “Ossan” also step in as practical assistants, helping clients move furniture or even acting as pretend boyfriends to ward off potential stalkers.

Ensuring Safety and Boundaries

Nishimoto places a strong emphasis on client safety. He rigorously screens potential “Ossan” applicants, ensuring they are not overly talkative, a trait that many clients find off-putting. Additionally, he conducts mandatory criminal background checks. Furthermore, Nishimoto strictly prohibits any physical contact or actions that could lead to a romantic relationship between “Ossan” and clients, with expulsion from the website as the consequence for any breaches.

Mutual Growth and Popularity

Despite the “Ossan” keeping their earnings, Nishimoto charges an $88.89 yen monthly fee for Ossan Rental membership, serving as a filter to deter individuals with dubious intentions. Additionally, “Ossan” commit to a one-year contract. The results have been impressive, with the site now receiving around 900 bookings per month. Popular ‘Ossan’ can secure 50 to 60 bookings, earning substantial amounts, sometimes reaching up to $888.90.

A Growing Trend and Competition

Nishimoto’s success has led to the growth of the ‘Ossan’-for-rent concept, with at least three other websites offering similar services throughout Japan. The benefits, however, are not limited to the clients. According to Nishimoto, “Ossan” themselves experience personal growth through this role, gaining confidence, refining their image, and learning valuable life lessons from their interactions with clients.

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