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Lonely, rent a friend

December 14, 2017


Hire fake friends or family; if you are in Japan and lonely, or if you are missing a loved one who is no more.


You can pay an actor to impersonate your relative, spouse, coworker, or any kind of acquaintance.


“The truth does have to come out eventually. The happiness is not endless, but that doesn’t mean that it’s without value. The child had a father when she needed him most. It might have been a brief period, and she might know the truth now, but she had a meaningful experience at that time.”


Money may not be able to buy love, but in Japan, it can certainly buy the appearance of love—and appearance, as the dapper insists, is everything. And that is the business of Ishii Yuichi, which involves becoming other people, your best friend, husband, father, or even a mourner at your funeral.


His 8-year-old company, Family Romance, provides professional actors to fill any role in the personal lives of clients. With a burgeoning staff of 800 or so actors, ranging from infants to the elderly, the organization provides a surrogate for almost any conceivable situation.


Yuichi’s company helps people cope with unbearable absences or perceived deficiencies in their lives. In an increasingly isolated and entitled society, he predicts à la carte human interaction will become the new norm.


More people, for example, want help to appear popular on social media. One man recently paid a huge sum just to fly with five employees to Las Vegas and take pictures for Facebook.


Read Ishii Yuichi by Roc Morin in ‘The Atlantic’ here:

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