I am not sure I agree with Duncan Bartlett byline for Rent-a-friend in Japan (BBC, January 12) that 'Japanese still like to use their money to have fun'.
This segment of From our own correspondent starts with a visit to Cat Cafes where for a fee time pressed Japanese can enjoy the company of our furry friends for a short time without ownership drawbacks such as cleaning litter and and other inconveniences.
As for the trend to hire people for companionship. He notes that "very popular at the moment is the Campus Cafe, where men go to socialise with female university students. It is cheaper than the upscale hostess clubs in which businessmen and politicians drink whisky with women in kimono."
Feels like the Lonely Hearts Club to me...
Another service whose name translates to "I Want To Cheer Up Limited" rents relatives.
From getting a partner to tag along for a social function to supplying single moms a 'dad' to help kids with homework to the strange idea of renting a husband to future brides so they can practice beforehand.
Yoko Kubota (Christian Science Monitor) covered this trend in Tokyo's cat cafes offer serenity in the city (April 2008). She mentions that it cost from $8 to $12 an hour for an hour sipping tea or coffee in the company of cats.
Is companionship without commitment the future?
Pondering, wondering for Tokyo Thursdays # 72
Previously: Vin Chaud in Tokyo at Bar Radio