Perfect job: the Japanese man paid to 'do nothing'

Tokyo resident charges $70 an hour to provide companionship

Shoji Morimoto charges people $71 an hour to be their companion. Reuters
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Shoji Morimoto has what some people would consider to be a dream job: he gets paid to do pretty much nothing.

The Tokyo resident, 38, charges 10,000 yen ($70) per booking to clients to be their companion.

"Basically, I rent myself out. My job is to be wherever my clients want me to be and to do nothing in particular," Mr Morimoto said.

He has carried out about 4,000 sessions in the past four years, he said.

Mr Morimoto has about 250,000 followers on Twitter, where he finds most of his clients. About one of four are repeat customers, including one who has hired him 270 times.

His job has taken him to a park with a person who wanted to play on a see-saw. He has also smiled and waved through a train window at a client who wanted a send-off.

But being available to do nothing does not mean Mr Morimoto will do anything. He has turned down requests to move a fridge and travel to Cambodia.

Last week, Mr Morimoto sat opposite Aruna Chida, a data analyst, to have a sparse conversation over tea and cakes.

Ms Chida, 27, wanted to wear her sari in public, but was worried it might embarrass her friends. So she turned to Mr Morimoto for companionship.

"With my friends I feel I have to entertain them, but with the rental guy I don't feel the need to be chatty," she said.

Before Mr Morimoto found his calling, he worked at a publishing company and was often chided for "doing nothing".

Shoji Morimoto has spent time with clients such as Aruna Chida, who wanted company while she wore her sari in public. Reuters

"I started wondering what would happen if I provided my ability to 'do nothing' as a service to clients," he said.

The companionship business is Mr Morimoto's sole source of income and allows him to support his wife and child. Although he declined to disclose how much he makes, he said he meets one or two clients a day. Before the Covid-19 pandemic began, it was three or four a day.

As he spent a Wednesday doing nothing of note in Tokyo, Mr Morimoto reflected on the bizarre nature of his job and appeared to question a society that values productivity and derides uselessness.

"People tend to think that my 'doing nothing' is valuable because it is useful [for others]. But it's fine to really not do anything. People do not have to be useful in any specific way," he said.

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