Rent a Friend

This just makes me sad: Japan, with one of the most dense populations, is also one of the most lonely and isolated. So lonely that Japanese people have started renting cats, dogs, drinking buddies, and even pretend family members.

Most Japanese people interviewed for the story say they rent family members because they wanted guidance on an issue but can’t talk to their own family members about it. Now in a way hiring someone to talk to is similar to people in the U.S. paying counselors to listen to and hash out their problems. And lots of Americans can’t have pets and so they volunteer at animal shelters or go play with their friends’ dogs, or just religiously visit cuteoverload.com. But the fact that Japanese people feel they have to pay to have companionship, even just to have a dog sit on the couch and watch T.V. with them, is just a sad statement of how far humans have gone from being the social, close-knit, small-tribe or village types we once were, and were for the majority of human history.