Google “family during Thanksgiving” and the first link you’ll get is one advertising “getaways and deals” for the holiday. The face of the American holiday might have been painted by Norman Rockwell, but the heart of the day set aside for us to give thanks to God and express gratitude for one another has as frosty a beat as that of Ebenezer Scrooge. Experts advise that if all else fails you should just avoid the holiday completely. But, the Japanese have a better idea. If you really can’t stand your family that much, why not rent a family for the holiday?
The Atlantic reports: “Money may not be able to buy love, but here in Japan, it can certainly buy the appearance of love—and appearance, as the dapper Ishii Yuichi insists, is everything. As a man whose business involves becoming other people, Yuichi would know. The handsome and charming 36-year-old is on call to be your best friend, your husband, your father, or even a mourner at your funeral.”
The article goes on to say: “His 8-year-old company, Family Romance, provides professional actors to fill any role in the personal lives of clients. With a burgeoning staff of 800 or so actors, ranging from infants to the elderly, the organization prides itself on being able to provide a surrogate for almost any conceivable situation.”
What better way to get through the awkward stressfulness of family gatherings than by making a paid stranger as the newest member of the clan? Afraid you won’t be able to maintain the ruse after the turkey dinner? Don’t worry. If you buy into a firm like Family Romance, the relative or lover you hire will be yours for life…literally:
Yuichi: I played a father for a 12-year-old with a single mother. The girl was bullied because she didn’t have a dad, so the mother rented me. I’ve acted as the girl’s father ever since. I am the only real father that she knows.
Morin: And this is ongoing?
Yuichi: Yes, I’ve been seeing her for eight years. She just graduated high school.
Morin: Does she understand that you’re not her real father?
Yuichi: No, the mother hasn’t told her.
Morin: How do you think she would feel if she discovered the truth?
Yuichi: I think she would be shocked. If the client never reveals the truth, I must continue the role indefinitely. If the daughter gets married, I have to act as a father in that wedding, and then I have to be the grandfather. So, I always ask every client, “Are you prepared to sustain this lie?” It’s the most significant problem our company has.
Now that’s sound investing with a guaranteed return. You don’t get many Americans, especially not those darn millennials, who are this dedicated to their craft.
Yuichi doesn’t just play family members. He’ll also accompany you into your workplace to take the blame for your mistake that cost the company millions. His company also contracts for social media appearances; want to impress your friends via Facebook? Yuichi’s crew will happily fly to Vegas with you just for the selfies.
Paid family, paid fame. Now that’s something to be grateful for, indeed.