Japanese Company Rents Out "Uncles" to Do Your Chores, Give Advice, Or Listen to You Vent
In Japan, being referred to as an ossan is not a compliment. The term is a rude way to say "uncle," and it typically brings to mind the stereotypical image of a messy, out-of-shape middle-aged man who likes to tell long stories and crack corny jokes. But one 50-year-old fashion consultant from Tokyo is trying to counter the negative connotations attached to the word with a TaskRabbit-esque service staffed by older men, according to Business Insider.
Takanobu Nishimoto launched his business, Ossan Rental, in 2012. Through his site, clients can rent an ossan for 1000 yen ($8.82) an hour to perform a wide range of services, whether it's help moving, serving as a date to a wedding, or just being someone to vent to for an afternoon. The idea is that a mature man's life experience makes him useful in a variety of situations, but Nishimoto believes that the service benefits the ossan as well, helping him gain confidence and giving him a reason to spruce up his appearance.
In the company's early days, Nishimoto himself was the only ossan available to rent, but today, customers have close to 80 uncles to choose from. Everyone on the site is personally screened by Nishimoto, both for safety reasons and to ensure their personality is a good fit for the company. (Long-winded talkers usually don't make it past the application process.) He also charges each ossan an 88.89 yen a month membership fee and requires them to sign a one-year contract.
When he founded the service, Nishimoto expected to get most of his business from young men looking for life advice. Instead, most of his clients today are women in their 20s to 50s. He receives roughly 900 reservations a month, with the most popular ossan in the database receiving 50 to 60 rental requests.
The business model has become so popular that it has already spawned copycats in Japan. (There are international variations on the idea, too—Brooklynites can "rent a mom" for $40 an hour.) If you're in Japan and want to rent from the original, visit ossanrental.thebase.in to find an ossan for hire.
[h/t Business Insider]