Japanese Company Rents Out "Uncles" to Do Your Chores, Give Advice, Or Listen to You Vent

iStock
iStock

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]

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Fried Beer Exists—and We Have Texas to Thank (or Blame) for It

You can have your beer and eat it, too.
You can have your beer and eat it, too.
Kristy, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

For anyone who thinks beer can qualify as a meal, we have some non-scientific evidence to support your claim: it’s shaped like ravioli, it tastes like a soft pretzel, and it’s filled with warm, yeasty deliciousness.

It’s deep-fried beer.

The story behind this culinary triumph began more than 10 years ago at a bar in Texas, where Mark Zable and his wife were scanning another uninspired menu with the same few finger foods. Zable made an offhand comment about how the bar should offer fried beer, and the couple realized it wasn’t such a bad idea—especially for the state fair.

Zable, a corporate recruiter by day, was no stranger to fair fare. As he told NPR, his father had opened a Belgian waffle stand at Texas’s state fair in the 1960s, and Zable himself assumed control after about 30 years. He experimented with new items to enter into the Big Tex Choice Awards food competition—sweet jalapeño corn dog shrimp and chocolate-covered strawberry waffle balls were two of his innovations—but nothing had won him a prize … yet.

Though the concept of fried beer was wacky enough to show real promise, execution proved difficult. Dropping liquid into a deep-fryer is a good way to get splattered with boiling oil, and Zable spent more than two years trying to devise an edible vessel that could both contain the beer and protect the chef. Finally, his 4-year-old son inspired a new angle, and Zable landed on a flawless design. Though Zable’s been tight-lipped on the details of that recipe, the Toronto Star reports that it’s essentially soft pretzel dough pressed into a ravioli-like pocket, filled with Guinness, and plopped into the deep-fryer for 15 to 20 seconds.

“It tastes great,” Zable told NPR. “Tastes just like eating a pretzel with a beer.”

Actual deep-fried beer from the 2010 State Fair of Texas.David Berkowitz, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

At last, Zable’s ambitious creation was ready for its debut at Texas’s 2010 state fair. He faced some tough competition at the Big Tex Choice Awards—including fried frozen margaritas, fried lemonade, and fried club salad—but even the other edible beverages were no match for Zable’s savory fusion of beer and bread. He took home the award for “Most Creative,” while “Texas Fried Fritos Pie” clinched “Best Taste.” Together, they’re a match made in state fair heaven.

[h/t NPR]