Do you have a boyfriend? No? Would you like to rent one? Good news, because does Japan have a service for you. It's not cheap.
This is "Boyfriend Rental" (彼氏レンタル or Kareshi Rentaru). Similar companion services have long existed in Japan, such as host bars. However, boyfriend rental was introduced this week on Hakunetsu Live Vivid, a nationwide morning show.
The subtitle reads, "This is the time when you can also buy a boyfriend with money." I'm pretty sure there has always been dudes for hire, but m'ok!
According to the manager of Rental Kareshi Premium, the service offers the experience of really having a boyfriend. (Note: This isn't the only rent-a-boyfriend service in Japan. Of course it isn't!)
Back in 2013, Kotaku introduced a "rent-an-old-man" service, which was about ten bucks an hour. Renting these boyfriends is far more expensive. For example, this particular service has different grades. There's "Fresh" for 5000 yen ($54) an hour, "Regular" for 6000 yen ($65) an hour, and "Special" for 7000 yen ($76) an hour.
Who uses rent-a-boyfriend services?
According to Hakunetsu Live Vivid, forty per cent of those who rent boyfriends are housewives. What's more, the number of repeat customers is 50 per cent. While this was featured on national Japanese television, don't think every single woman in the country is renting a boyfriend. That would be a mischaracterisation.
Another thing to be aware of is that while some (most?) people with boyfriends like to have sex with said boyfriends, here, that's not on the menu. This isn't prostitution. You apparently cannot even kiss your rental boyfriend. Handholding and hugging are ok. This is more about companionship, and the feeling of excitement you get with someone. That's the appeal.
So, with that in mind...
This lady is going to rent a boyfriend for the first time. And what will she do?
Have her (rental) boyfriend buy her things (with money she gave him).
Hit an arcade.
Sing karaoke and hold hands.
Hugs are at the end of the date.
This kind of thing can get expensive! As you can see here, the woman whose boyfriend rental date was featured on Hakunetsu Live Vivid, spent 39,000 yen ($422) for the six-hour rental fee.
Then, on top of that, there was an array of expenses:
- 1030 yen ($11) on crepes
- 9720 yen ($105) on shopping for accessories
- 4089 yen ($44) on karaoke
- 14,590 yen ($158) on a meal
- 400 yen ($4) on sticker pictures at the arcade
- 200 yen ($2) on an arcade game
The total cost of the boyfriend-rental date was 69,029 yen ($747). That's a lot of money! But, in Japan, where there are numerous companionship services for men to blow large amounts on cash on, it's only fair that, among consenting adults, women would have a rental-a-companions available to them.
I dunno about you, I'd rather rent a ninja for the day.