For most people, work is an endless list of tasks to finish — there’s plenty of things to do and seemingly not enough time to tick them all off. But for one man in Japan, it's quite the opposite. Shoji Morimoto, 37, lives in Tokyo and has been offering himself “for rent” since 2018 to do nothing. Yes, nothing.
He takes requests from people through his Twitter account, which has accumulated over 260,000 followers as of writing. “I will lend you a person (me) who does nothing,” his bio reads.
Each session costs 10,000 Japanese yen ($96), plus transportation and food fees. Morimoto estimates that he has taken around 3,000 requests since starting his business, usually meeting with two to three clients in one day. He typically spends around two to three hours with each person but Morimoto said that there is no time limit. So what does doing “nothing” actually entail?
“During the services, I accompany my customers on whatever they need me for. I answer their questions, listen to them, nod when needed,” Morimoto told VICE. “It was a little embarrassing in the beginning but I got used to it over time.”
There is no typical work day for Morimoto. One day, he’s watching a movie in a cinema and on the next he’s thousands of feet in the air on a helicopter ride. He has been to Disneyland with a client and listened to a cheater confess to an affair over a meal. Sometimes, he’s there for moral support — like when he accompanied someone in submitting divorce papers, or visited a hospital to stay with a patient who had just attempted suicide.
“I think the reason why people demand my services depends on the customer’s circumstances,” he said. “I think it comes down to needing ‘the presence of one human being’ in a given situation.”
“I think it comes down to needing ‘the presence of one human being’ in a given situation.”
Morimoto was inspired to start his self-rental service after he left his previous job as a writer and editor for teaching materials.
“I used to carry around this complex, that I need to do something, but I’m not good at anything. 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.’”
“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.’”
Morimoto’s work has garnered so much attention in Japan that he has been featured in local media multiple times. His story even inspired a television drama series, Rental Nan mo Shinai Hito, or “Rent-a-Person Who Does Nothing.”
According to Morimoto, this is the first time he has ever been satisfied with a job.
“There are so many interesting ways my work develops, so I never get tired of it. I also get to do things I could’ve never imagined, which is interesting.”