Date: 2009 January 14 08:58
Posted by Joe
BBC News have an amusing story about the current trend in Akihabara - Cat Cafes. The article mentions Ja La La Cafe, where clients pay by the hour for the company of cats petting and photographing them. We've heard of these pet rental places before. Most Japanese apartments don't allow pets, and for many jet setting business people pet ownership isn't practical, so the pet cafes have sprung up as a result.
The article also mentions other pet rental services, such a those that let you rent time with dogs or rabbits. Apparently there are over 150 companies in Tokyo which are licensed to hire out animals.
The article then focuses on another service available in Japan. Renting people! Apart from renting hostess in clubs which sell expensive drinks. There is a growing trend for the Campus Cafe, where men go to socialise with female college students.
Also mentioned is Hagemashi Tai (I Want to Cheer Up Limited), where you can rent relatives. Actors can be sent to play the part of distant relatives at funerals, they can even give speeches for an extra fee.
Single mothers can also rent husbands to help children with their homework and problems with the neighbours. The service also has another practical side where you can rent him for school interviews to give school board the image of the perfect family.
People can even rent parents for advice! The article concludes that loneliness is a problem faced by many Japanese people, and the rental of people can replace friendship.