Essentially, you pay an hourly rate to come inside and sit with a cat. You can buy treats to feed to it, take pictures with it, play with it or just sit there and hold it in your lap, presumably for supervillain training.
Other places let you rent dogs, rabbits, ferrets or even goddamn beetles. All in all, there more than 150 pet rental companies in Tokyo, and the business keeps growing in popularity. How much does it cost to get a monkey to follow us around all afternoon? Wearing a tiny outfit that perfectly matches ours? Because we'll pay it.
A Rented Friend/Relative/Lover
Renting a person isn't a new concept (it's called "prostitution"), but in Japan, you can pay people to sit with you, pretend to be your mom or dad or distant relative, or even stand in as your spouse in social situations, because evidently Japan is teeming with the loneliest people in the entire world.
"I paid for eight hours of your time, and by God you're going to spend it playing pinochle."
One such person-renting exchange occurs in places called Campus Cafes, where grown men pay to come and hang out with college girls. There's no sex or groping involved -- the men are literally paying money just to talk to girls about whatever.
Hagemashi Tai (which is Japanese for "I want to cheer up") is a friend-renting agency. You can hire one of its actors to act as just about anyone for just about any situation. For example, at a wedding in Saitama, Japan, the groom's manager gave a heartfelt speech about how great a guy he was and how lucky everyone at the company was to have him. The thing is, this "manager" had never set eyes on the groom or anyone else in the wedding before. The groom hired him from the friend agency to the tune of about 20,000 yen. Although we feel that if you're going to pay someone to pretend to be your boss, you might as well have him give a speech about how you Chuck Norrised a bunch of terrorists in the face after they invaded the company picnic last spring.
"Of all the men I've ever seen gut a terrorist with their bare hands, Mark grunted the least."
It doesn't stop with fake employers -- you can rent people to play absolutely any part you want them to, for any occasion you see fit. You can hire a husband to tutor your kids and yell at the neighbors. You can rent yourself a father to walk you down the aisle at your wedding. You can pay someone to go to Disneyland with you. You can even get a wife to make yourself seem nonthreatening, presumably because that makes it way easier to trick girls into getting in your van.
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