Japanese People Rent Friends and Family to Overcome Loneliness

Japanese People Rent Friends and Family to Overcome Loneliness

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Having friends and family over for food is something most take for granted. But for those who have no one, life can often be a lonely affair. A new rental-service is making it possible for people living in Japan to rent a friend or even an entire family. Kazushige Nishida has invited two replacement relatives to his home for a meal.

A rental-wife and a rental-daughter for the evening means Nishida has a full kitchen once again.

“Originally, I lived here with my wife and two daughters. But my wife became ill and passed away and my daughters left the house to live on their own. So every time I come home I feel really lonely.”   
Kazushige Nishida, Client,

A company named 'Family Romance' is behind the rental solutions. Nishida first learned about Family Romance after watching a television program featuring an older woman that had used the service.

This is now the ninth time he is using the service over the last two years. He tries to do it whenever he can afford too, every 3 or 4 months.

But with a price tag of $200 USD per person for a day, it can be expensive to rent both a wife and a daughter at the same time.

For Nishida, the service is a means of coping with loneliness, as well as a means of repentance.

"Soon after my wife's illness became worse and she passed away. The fact that I didn't apologise to her before she passed still something that weighs heavy in my heart. Even though I know it doesn't make up for what I did, when my rental family comes to visit me I think about my sadness for my wife and I try to show them kindness," he explains.

Family Romance first opened its doors in 2010, gaining traction several years later.

CEO of Family Romance, Yuichi Ishii came up with the idea when he was 24 years old, after hearing how his friend, a single mother, was having trouble gaining entry to a kindergarten for her child.

"I knew this single mother who wanted to put her child in a private kindergarten. However, kindergartens in Japan are expensive, so they turned down her application because of her status as a single mother," he explains.

Now the company says they receive around 250 requests for rentals per month. They also boast a 98% satisfaction rate from people that use their services according to their website.

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