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Rent-a-Friend Business Booming in Japan

One of my favorite episodes of How I Met Your Mother involves Barney and his hired "family." The eternal playboy (played by Neil Patrick Harris) wants his mother to think he has settled down, so he pays actors to play his wife and son, concocts an elaborate backstory with details including his son's "catch phrase," and plays along for years every time he visits his mother with his fake family in tow.

Well apparently, Japan has turned this sitcom plot into a reality. Japanese rent-a-friend companies allow people to pay for pretend friends, relatives, work colleagues, or even best men! Sometimes single mothers hire fake husbands so kids stop bullying their children at school for having absent fathers!

Just like Barney's family, the "agents" are trained to know an extensive backstory. If rentees give any hint that they're aren't really the people they're pretending to be, it could mess up the clients' lives. Creepy! Apparently the need to look like everything is perfect in your life is so important in Japan that some people are willing to rent these actor-CIA-agent hybrids for about $250 per appearance.

While it might be tempting to hire a stand-in boyfriend for awkward situations, like when you're the only single girl invited to a dinner party filled with couples, this still seems strange to me. What do you think?

Photo courtesy of CBS

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Veka Veka 6 years
Someone pay me $250 for the day and I'll be your best friend!
raganwalker raganwalker 6 years
I love it!
raganwalker raganwalker 6 years
I love it!
TheEnchantedOne TheEnchantedOne 6 years
Reminds me of a Pushing Daisies ep. Aww I miss the Pie Hole :(
kurniakasih kurniakasih 6 years
Paying someone to be fake husband is rather unusual, like the others say, how are you going to explain if the actor blows your cover and yeah, you can't keep renting the guy forever LOL. That can get pretty pricey, 'cheaper' to get a real husband, ha!But rent-a-friend or pretend-current bf is another thing when you're invited to a couple event...sad that someone has to do that, however, s/he may need to 'save face' (which is very customary in Asian culture). At least you're not 'forever'-bonded with the actor (or having to hire him everytime), you can always say you guys break up or drift apart if anyone asks.I won't be hiring anyone like that anytime soon, although it's a pretty creative endeavors. The demands must have been there for this business to begin to strive.
kurniakasih kurniakasih 6 years
Paying someone to be fake husband is rather unusual, like the others say, how are you going to explain if the actor blows your cover and yeah, you can't keep renting the guy forever LOL. That can get pretty pricey, 'cheaper' to get a real husband, ha! But rent-a-friend or pretend-current bf is another thing when you're invited to a couple event...sad that someone has to do that, however, s/he may need to 'save face' (which is very customary in Asian culture). At least you're not 'forever'-bonded with the actor (or having to hire him everytime), you can always say you guys break up or drift apart if anyone asks. I won't be hiring anyone like that anytime soon, although it's a pretty creative endeavors. The demands must have been there for this business to begin to strive.
a-million-suns a-million-suns 6 years
Saving face is an extremely important thing in that culture, so I'm guessing it has to do with that.
nikecold nikecold 6 years
lol like that movie with Debra Messing, The Wedding date.
SKC-Sparkle SKC-Sparkle 6 years
FrenchKiss - I think your idea could possibly be a future movie: lady falls in love with agent.I think this is awkward and sad. And very expensive!
SKC-Sparkle SKC-Sparkle 6 years
FrenchKiss - I think your idea could possibly be a future movie: lady falls in love with agent. I think this is awkward and sad. And very expensive!
French-Kiss French-Kiss 6 years
"You'd have an awful lot of explaining to do if someone clued in to the fact that your husband is a paid actor. I just wouldn't be comfortable living that kind of a lie." >>> Pistil you are so right ! I wouldn't like neither to lie to the persons i'm with.
French-Kiss French-Kiss 6 years
"You'd have an awful lot of explaining to do if someone clued in to the fact that your husband is a paid actor. I just wouldn't be comfortable living that kind of a lie." >>> Pistil you are so right ! I wouldn't like neither to lie to the persons i'm with.
French-Kiss French-Kiss 6 years
It sounds weird indeed... But what if the false becomes the truth ? What if the lady falls in love with the agent ? That would be so cute ^^ However, it's awful to think poeple have to do this because of how the others are going to think about them if they don't . I mean, to do something because we are afraid fo the other's judgment is quite sad =/
French-Kiss French-Kiss 6 years
It sounds weird indeed... But what if the false becomes the truth ? What if the lady falls in love with the agent ? That would be so cute ^^ However, it's awful to think poeple have to do this because of how the others are going to think about them if they don't . I mean, to do something because we are afraid fo the other's judgment is quite sad =/
Pistil Pistil 6 years
It is strange and kind of sad. Hasn't anyone watched enough TV to know that these schemes almost always backfire? You'd have an awful lot of explaining to do if someone clued in to the fact that your husband is a paid actor. I just wouldn't be comfortable living that kind of a lie.
tlsgirl tlsgirl 6 years
It seems totally weird to me. Actually, it seems really sad.
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