There are so many things that can happen on one day alone which can leave us gagging for a good complaining session.
For instance, this morning I have worn totally inappropriate – but most importantly, stylish – boots for the current snowy conditions and my once cosy socks are now saturated.
And then after finally getting to work, through what felt like the icy wilds of Mancunian Narnia, I took a sip from my new water bottle and nearly choked to death on the waterlogged instruction leaflet.
I could go on, but I won’t. It is after all unfair to burden people with too many of the little irritations which awaken our inner grumpy bear. Unless of course you pay them cold, hard cash to listen to you…
Japanese businessman Takanobu Nishimoto has seen a real gap in the market, knowing how friends only have so much patience after the fourth time you bring up that unfair parking ticket.
In 2012, Nishimoto created an online service known as Ossan Rental. The service hires middle-aged men – referred to as ‘Ossan’ or ‘uncles’ – to listen to the problems of clients, offering a little school of life wisdom in return.
Nishimoto hoped this service would help to change the perception of middle-aged men in Japan as being ‘long-winded and full of lame jokes’. And he has been surprised by the results.
Initially, I thought that young men seeking advice would make up most of the clientele, but it was women from their twenties to fifties.
Ossan Rental has proved popular, with approximately 900 bookings being taken each month. As for the Ossan, they can make a fair amount of money, with the most popular ‘uncles’ raking in a monthly sum of £675.
Japonya'da Takanobu Nishimoto isimli girişimci orta yaş erkekleri kiralıyor. Fiziksel temas kesinlikle yasak. Şirketin 5 binden fazla müşterisi var. Kiralık erkeklerle dertleşiliyor, kariyer tavsiyeleri alınıyor vs… pic.twitter.com/JBR5GPkf7N
— Selcuk Eren (@selcukerennn) August 3, 2018
66-year-old retired Japan Airlines employee, Hideki Nakahara, was diagnosed with depression towards the end of his career, and knew sitting around the house doing nothing would do him no good.
After seeing an article about Ossan Rental, Nakahara – a good listener with bags of HR experience – decided to offer his services as an uncle.
Married father Nakahara told the Japan Times:
A lot of people need advice on their lives, their careers or their relationships, I’m not a counselor, but I thought my experience might help someone out there.
There are reportedly 78 middle-aged men for rent on the Ossan Rental website, with interests ranging from mountain climbing to reggae.
Nishimoto told the Japan Times how he became inspired to launch the service after overhearing school girls discussing how ‘disgusting’ middle aged men were:
It was then that I realized middle-aged men in general were considered ‘gross,’ I wanted to do something to restore our reputation … and prove that middle-aged men were useful, that we were cool.
Clients have included a woman who needed help when shopping for something to wear when seeing her estranged son. Other clients have even asked an uncle to pretend to be their boyfriend.
Loads of people want to be a member of Ossan Rental, They think it’s cool and want to contribute to society.
My favourite: ‘Ossan Rental service, founded by Takanobu Nishimoto, employs 78 men to play the traditional role of wise older man.’
— Eleanor Nicolás (@evnicolas) October 27, 2018
Do you reckon this service would catch on in the UK?
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.