Dream Job: The Japanese Man Who Gets Paid To Do Nothing

Shoji Morimoto has what some would call a dream job: He gets paid to do pretty much nothing. The 38-year-old Tokyo resident charges ¥10,000 ($85) per booking to accompany clients and act as a companion. His job, he says, is to be whatever his clients want him to be and to do nothing in particular. So far, he has booked some 4,000 sessions over the past four years. With a lanky build and average looks, Morimoto now boasts nearly 250,000 followers on Twitter, where he finds most of his clients. Roughly a quarter of them are repeat customers, including one who has hired him 270 times. Doing nothing doesn’t mean Morimoto will do anything. He has turned down offers to move a refrigerator and to accompany a man who wanted to commit suicide, and he doesn’t take any requests of a sexual nature. His most recent job was to sit opposite 27-year-old data analyst Aruna Chida (pictured above), who was clad in an Indian sari, while having minimal conversation over tea and cakes. She wanted to wear her Indian garment out in public, but was worried that it might embarrass her friends, so she turned to Morimoto for companionship. “With my friends, I feel I have to entertain them; but with the rental guy I don’t have to be chatty,” said Chida. 
While his work might suggest otherwise, Morimoto isn’t a slouch. With a postgraduate degree in physics from Osaka University, he tried long and hard to build a traditional career before his newfound job took over. After being constantly told that he lacked initiative, he realized that doing nothing could be a skill. The self-made gig suits Morimoto rather well. Fairly introverted and quiet when he isn’t working, being paid to listen or accompany strangers on errands is both easy and rewarding. Since he first offered his services, Morimoto has tended to healthcare workers fatigued by the pandemic, cheered clients on at marathons, and waved to a client leaving on a train who wanted a send-off as if they were best friends. Rather than judge clients for their perceived weaknesses, he provides them with company — and he learns something new every day. The companionship business is now his sole source of income, with which he supports his wife and child. 
When divorcée Akari Shirai wanted to eat at her favorite restaurant without thinking about her ex-husband, she hired Morimoto to join her.