[Ed. – Apparently there’s a market for it. Based on its description, this service seems reminiscent in some ways of Germany’s “Rent-a-Jew” enterprise. It’s not about “intimate contact,” but about the middle-aged men sharing life experience and being sounding boards for people — or bringing cultural skills to situations, etc.]
It’s much better to pour your woes into a stranger’s ear, grab the good advice and run … or so goes the logic of Takanobu Nishimoto, 50, who founded an online Ossan Rental service in 2012.
Renting a stranger for advice and meeting in, say, a cafe means you will never have to meet again, he said: “Stories will spread if clients talk to someone they know.”
This is where men like Sasaki come in, lending an ear to strangers while renewing their own value in society.
Nishimoto’s inspiration came when he overheard “high school girls making fun of middle-aged men on the commuter train,” particularly their hairy ears, and calling the men “smelly” and “dirty.”
Previously admired in a male-dominated Japanese society, ossan are now struggling to maintain a positive reputation in the fast-changing culture where values are in flux.