A 37-year-old man in Japan is raising eyebrows for offering people a unique service at a relatively high price: to do nothing.
Since June 2018, Shoji Morimoto has advertised himself as someone who can “eat and drink, and give simple feedback, but do nothing more,” The Mainichi reports. Morimoto, who was formerly a writer and editor for teaching materials, typically charges about 10,000 yen (around $96 USD), not including additional fees for food and transportation.
“I’m not a friend or an acquaintance,” he explained to the publication. “I’m free of the bothersome things that accompany relationships but can ease people’s sense of loneliness. Maybe it’s something like that for me.”
Though some might find his service ludicrous, Morimoto claims he has received over 3,000 requests, some from people who have felt lonely and simply just need someone around them. According to The Mainichi, Morimoto commits to his role when requested too — even if his clients feel lonely, he offers nothing but casual responses to signal that he’s listening to them.
“I myself don’t like to be cheered on by others,” Morimoto said. “I get upset when people simply tell me keep on trying. When someone is trying to do something, I think the best thing to do is to help lower the bar for them by staying at their side.”
So far, Morimoto, who has nearly 270,000 Twitter followers, has gotten great reviews from his customers. One 37-year-old woman told The Mainichi that she had requested his services at least 10 times, once asking him to stay next to her as she was meeting a man for the first time. She also asked him to accompany her on an undercover visit to an adult establishment for her job.
“He listened to me without shaming me about going to the adult entertainment shop,” she recalled. “It felt like a support to just have him by my side without forcing his opinions on me.”
Another was equally complimentary on Twitter.
“I’m glad I was able to take a walk with someone while keeping a comfortable distance, where we didn’t have to talk but could if we wanted to,” one user wrote, according to The Mainichi.
In a separate interview with Vice, Morimoto said that, after leaving his writing and editing gig, he struggled to figure out his next career move.
“I used to carry around this complex, that I need to do something, but I’m not good at anything,” he said. “I tried a bunch of things that I thought I’d be suitable for, but nothing stuck. So I thought, ‘I’m not suited to do anything, maybe I’m more suited to do nothing.'”
Now, he feels a certain level of satisfaction for getting paid to do nothing.
“There are so many interesting ways my work develops, so I never get tired of it,” Morimoto, who has also accompanied clients on a helicopter ride and a trip to Disneyland. “I also get to do things I could’ve never imagined, which is interesting.”
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