You can now hire a middle-aged man to listen to you complain for $9-an-hour
Former fashion consultant, Takanobu Nishimoto, runs Ossan Rental, a service that connects people with middle-aged men to listen to their problems, do chores, or to offer general life advice.
The name of the company comes from "Ossan", a rather derogatory word used to refer to mature men, or what is known in Japan as "uncles".
The 50-year-old has been running the business from his home in Tokyo since 2012, and it has proved to be a runaway success.
Surprisingly, the service was not initially aimed towards women. "Initially, I thought that young men seeking advice would make up most of the clientele, but it was women from their twenties to fifties," Nishimoto told The Straits Times.
And from just $1,000 yen ($8), people can hire an Ossan to provide companionship, accompany them to lunch, or to even hoover their apartment.
Nishomoto said he set up the service to challenge negative stereotypes of Japanese "uncles", who are typically mocked for their receding hairlines, beer bellies, and lack of cleanliness.
Each Ossan must undergo a thorough background check before being listed on the website, and Nishimoto was quick to clarify that any form of sexual relationship between "uncles" and their clients is strictly prohibitied.
The site reportedly receives over 900 bookings a month, with certain employees earning as much as $580 per day. There are now over 80 Ossans available on the website.
Nishomoto believes the service is so successful because of the benefits it provides to both Ossans and their clients. "Ossans' themselves also grow through this role. Either they gain more confidence, polish their image, or learn lessons in life from other people," he explained.