The Unlikely Success Story of a Man Who Gets Paid to Do Nothing

Shoji Morimoto, 37, has gone from being just another unemployed middle-aged man in Tokyo to a minor Japanese celebrity who makes a living doing nothing. He basically rents himself out to strangers, letting them know beforehand that he can do nothing but eat, drink and hang around. Morimoto was a model student, graduating from prestigious Osaka University with a master’s degree in physics. He got a job as a book editor at a publishing house, but quit after realizing that wasn’t the career he really wanted. In 2018, he advertised himself as available to rent to anyone who needed a temporary companion, someone to listen to them, or to just be physically present. Now, he leaves home at 8:30 in the morning and doesn’t return until 10:00 in the evening. His best client is a man who rents him because he wants to talk to someone about his hobby. Morimoto simply listens to him for three hours at a time. Mr. Rental’s other gigs include accompanying a woman to a wedding, going with a woman to sign her divorce decree, and sitting behind a man who was on trial. Renting people is quite common in Japan, and in 2020 business has been booming.