Rental family services – Japan shows the way

Rental family services - Japan shows the way

Familie, Freunde und Begleitung mieten Japan -Japanische Familie am Strand

Family happiness, friends and business partners for rent? Rental family services make it possible.

In a fast-moving, materialistic world, the Asian region with its population conglomeration represents a special hotspot: Big cities bursting at the seams, superficial moral standards and social isolation shape the social image of the broad masses. The lack of satisfactory personal relationships, coupled with the pressure to marry from one’s own family and the fear of being banished to the social grave of the single person, led to the birth of a new concept in Japan in the early 1990s: the rental family service for friends, family and business partners. Acting agencies developed from this idea fulfilled two different functions. On the one hand, they served to uphold prevailing social etiquette and unwritten laws, and on the other hand, by escaping from loneliness, they enabled the clients to fulfil emotional needs and achieve more far-reaching personal development.

Satsuki Oiwa was the first Japanese woman to fill this market niche. With the Japan Efficiency Corporation, she made everyday roles in a real-life context available for purchase for the first time, and her innovative concept quickly met with approval. Further rental agencies for family members, friends, guests and business partners were subsequently established in Asia, but also spread to the rest of the world.

The agency Family-Romance from Japan, founded by Yuichi Ishii, also successfully continued the model: As temporary help for occasions and family reunions or as a long-term solution, mothers, fathers, brides, grooms as well as an entire wedding party, (grand)children, employees and numerous other roles can be booked in order to give a little help to reality. Rent-a-friend was founded in America in 2009 and is now a worldwide used platform for renting friends and companions for leisure activities. Billing is on an hourly basis – as the booked friend specifies.

If you want to learn more about the origin of the concept of rental services in the area of friendship, family and business, we recommend the radio play feature of Deutschlandfunk Kultur/ WDR 2019 by Jean-Claude Kuner entitled “Fake Family – Menschenverleih in Japan”.

Alice Hörner