I Rented a Boyfriend!
Japan is filled with plenty of “interesting” entertainment businesses such as maid cafes, owl cafes or robot restaurants. This time it’s not about an interesting cafe or restaurant but it is about Japan’s new trend, “Rental Boyfriend!”
(Image Source: Netatama)
About “Rental Boyfriend”
You may ask “what the heck is Rental Boyfriend?!” It’s exactly what you think it is! You literally rent your favorite boy to have a full “boyfriend experience.” Depending on the agent, their rules would vary but this time I would love to explain the guidelines from the agent that I rented a boyfriend from.
Rules of “Rental Boyfriend”
Rental Boyfriend will be your real boyfriend only for the contracted time, and you can do almost anything you want with them. However, sexual activity including kissing, using private transportation such as cars, staying overnight, and going to a private space such as customer’s house or hotel (karaoke is an exception) are strictly prohibited. Of course you cannot ask for their private contact information, and you cannot ask them out directly outside of this service.
*This rule is based on one agent that I used the service from.
(Image Source: Pinky)
Process to Rent a “Boyfriend”
To rent a boyfriend, you would first visit their website and decide who you want to request a date with. Once you send out a form with all of the needed information such as possible dates, locations, and activities, your application will be reviewed. If your request gets accepted, you will receive an e-mail from your boyfriend to discuss about the date. I got an e-mail from my boyfriend right after my request was accepted. We started our conversation in a formal way, but it got very casual in the middle and we were already calling each other by our first names. We also decided where we would go, and my boyfriend made a reservation for our date. Once all the details are settled, now you just need to wait for your big day!
A Date with Your “Rental Boyfriend”
The Morning of the Date
On the morning of the date, my boyfriend asked me what I was wearing today so that he could easily find me. He never asked me how I looked like or to send any of my photos.
This time I rented a boyfriend who looks exactly like my huge celebrity crush, Toma Ikuta. I’ve been a huge fan of Toma Ikuta since I was 10 years old, and I’ve never had a crush on random cute guys or celebrities except him, so I knew that if my date with this boy didn’t work out, I probably would never rent another boyfriend again. However, although this “boyfriend” looks like Toma Ikuta on their website, you never know what kind of person will actually show up. So I was pretty nervous while waiting for him because I was wondering if someone who didn’t look like the photos would show up instead….
BUT! Of course it’s Japan. My boyfriend looked exactly the same as the photos and videos that I saw on their website. He was a very cute and tall gentleman with a very charming smile!
(Image Source: nius news)
Walking the City Like a Couple
As soon as we started heading to an owl cafe that my boyfriend made a reservation for, he asked me if he could hold my hand because it was cold that day. He made such a natural move and I was already under an illusion that he was actually my boyfriend.
(Image Source: Yahoo! Blog)
When we got to the owl cafe’s building, he first asked me if I wanted him to hold some money so that we could pretend like he’s paying everything for me in public. I also paid him today’s date fee at this time, so that when we go our separate ways at the end of the date, the feeling of going back to reality wouldn’t be too evident.
Perfect Kawaii Prince
I won’t go into too much details about what we did during our date, but I can say that I’ve never seen such a gentleman in Japan, where “Ladies First” culture is very uncommon. He remembered my e-mail and how I was wondering if we could hold an owl, so right after we paid an entrance fee, he asked the employee if there’s any way to hold an owl. At the cafe we went to, they were not letting customers hold their owls at this moment but he tried a couple of times with different employees because he knew that I wanted to take a photo holding an owl. Even when we had to put down our jackets and bags, he would always take the time to put his belongings down first, so that my bag and jacket wouldn’t be smashed. When we went to grab a drink, of course he would do everything for you to treat you like a princess. I was very amazed.
After the cafe, we went to the arcade to take purikura. Of course there are things that you cannot do with your boyfriend, but usually they won’t say no to your requests. Even when we take purikura, he held the curtain for me to come inside and he escorted me for the entire time.
It was nice because I gave him money at the beginning so I never had to worry about taking out my purse to pay!
(Image Source: Daily Portal Z)
Time to Say Good Bye…
We walked back to the train station holding hands and we had a final goodbye. Before he left, he gave me a cute envelope for the change. I opened the envelope when I got home, and it was change with the receipt for how much we spent today. I have a feeling that he made the receipt in the restroom at the end of the day, and I was quite impressed that he had kept track of all the expenses.
After the Date
After the date, since he asked me to send him today’s purikura and the selfies that we took together, I e-mailed him on that night to say thank you. He replied and we talked about how much fun we had today and we ended our conversation. Finally, this concludes my whole “Rental Boyfriend” experience.
Cost of “Rental Boyfriend”
The cost of “Rental Boyfriend” is by an hourly rate (2 hours minimum) + transportation fee + expenses from the date, for example meals and/or admission prices. My boyfriend’s rate was 6,000 yen per hour so it was 12,000 yen and I picked Akihabara, which is one of the major cities in Tokyo, so the minimum transportation fee was 3,000 yen. Including other expenses such as entrance fees for the owl café, purikura and karaoke, it was about 17,000 yen in total.
(Image Source: Googirl)
Target of “Rental Boyfriend”
According to a Japanese TV show that featured the “Rental Boyfriend” business, it says 40% of the customers are housewives and 50% of them would become a repeater. Women in 20s ~ 50s mainly use this service although men can rent these boys as their “friends” as well (in that case, you have to rent boys as “friends,” meaning you cannot hold hands or have extra skinship).
Capability to Become a “Rental Boyfriend”
Although it sounds quite easy to do a “Rental Boyfriend’s job, it is fairly difficult to officially get hired. You have to be qualified for not only the looks but also hospitality, manners, conversation topics which cover every generation and you have to pass all of the extremely strict training and tests. Through my experience, I can totally tell that he was well trained and is 100% aware of how to treat women with respect.
Goals of “Rental Boyfriend”
“Rental Boyfriend” service can be enjoyed by many people for different reasons; for those who are not used to talking to men, who want to have an amazing date, who want to get over their broken hearts, who feel stressed out at school or work, or for those who want a companion to simply chat with. The goal of this service is to offer comfort, relaxation and a sweet time for mainly women.
To Rent the Same “Boyfriend” Again
What’s even more great is if you want to request a date from the same “boyfriend” again, you don’t have to go through the agency anymore! Simply e-mail your boyfriend for the next date and once you decide all the details, you will e-mail their agency for the confirmation. This time, you can directly ask him out by e-mail, so you will enjoy the feeling that he is actually your boyfriend even more!
You Can Only Rent “Boyfriends?”
No! Japan offers not only “Rental Boyfriend” but also “Rental Girlfriend”, “Rental Middle-Aged Men”, “Rental Boyfriend/Girlfriend Only for a Cuddle”, “Rental Delivery Boy Who Would Wipe Your Tears at Your Work” and so on. If any of these rental services involve verbal communication, you might have to be able to communicate with them in Japanese (unless the talent knows how to speak English), however as for a cuddle or wiping tears service, you can enjoy this experience without a language barrier. And again, most rental talent services do NOT welcome any sexual activities (not all the agencies but most of them don’t).
Is It Worth It?
“Rental Boyfriend” sure is expensive but overall it is a very unique yet platonic service which focuses on offering women’s comfort. I’m not regretting the expenses that I had to pay and I wouldn’t mind renting a boyfriend again from them. Having a perfect date with an extremely good looking gentleman with manners and a good sense of humor is totally worth the price that I paid for.
Nowadays, more young people are losing interest in relationships because they think that being in a relationship can be such a pain while the amount of over-time at your job won’t get reduced in Japan. Like how animal cafes work, Japanese people can feel relaxed and loved by something or someone, when they are in need of a break from the daily stress of life. From American people’s perspective, paying over $100 just for a date without even kissing might seem pointless. However, this renting talent business has been growing for the past few years because there is a huge demand in Japan.
For those who are interested in this service but cannot understand Japanese, they also welcome double dates! If you have a friend who can speak English, you can have a double date with them so that your friend can help you out when necessary.
(Image Source: Girls Channel)
Overall, I would say that this “Rental Boyfriend” is something that you should experience at least once. I really had an amazing time with my boyfriend, and what girl wouldn’t want a prince to treat her like a princess?! 😉
*Please be aware that there are some shady “Rental Boyfriend” agents so I recommend you to do the full research before you actually send out your information. Good luck!