Don’t you feel like you could give anything to find a person who would listen to your most embarrassing problems, talk to you or give you life advice without being hurt or judgmental? Turns out, you only need to shell out about $10 for it!
Takanobu Nishimoto, a 40-something fashion coordinator from Tokyo, Japan, came up with Ossan Rentals, a service that lets you rent a middle-aged man (“Ossan” is a not-so-polite way of saying “Uncle”), at a thousand yens an hour, when you need a friend to chat, a companion to a wedding, or an advisor for the direst of problems.
Nishimoto stumbled upon the idea in 2012, when a group of schoolgirls ridiculed him as a “gross Ossan”, and he decided to embrace this trait of his and do something constructive with it. And so Nishimoto and his company of 60-odd Ossans around Japan are available at your service, with all their wisdom and patience derived from four to five decades of life experience.
The website functions like any regular e-commerce site: you choose an Ossan, enter a time and place where you want to meet, and complete the payment procedure.
Around 70% of their customers are women, from heartbroken schoolgirls to bed-ridden octagenarians, with the remaining 30% including men like a fisherman who just wanted company during an exceptionally long catch.
If you’re getting any weird ideas, Nishimoto insists that they are professionals and talking means talking. This is especially significant in Japan where the social conventions are very rigid and there are strict rules about what can be discussed with whom. In such a case, such a service is a veritable boon for someone contemplating something as commonplace as a job switch or a wedding announcement to the family, and needs advice or support in that regard. A large chunk of the customers are actually repeat subscribers.
"I never know exactly what they're going to ask for when they rent me, and of course that's a bit scary, but it's also why it's so interesting. Honestly, I've never had problems with any weird clients... I've had plenty of emotional experiences.", says Nishimoto, who is the most sought-after Ossan in Tokyo now.
Who knew good listening skills could actually fetch you money?
Title image: 20minsfr