What It’s Like to “Rent” a Gent in Tokyo (and Other People for Hire in the City)

Feeling lonely or need a companion for a social occasion? No problem. In Tokyo, you can rent all kinds of people from a simple dinner date to a middle-aged guy to keep you company and impart a few words of wisdom, or even a full wedding party (should you wish to hide the fact you’re still single in your forties, perhaps?).

Since February is the month of love, Weekender decided to have a bit of fun with this slightly bizarre side of Tokyo culture. So we recently ran a “Rent-a-Gent” campaign in which we “rented out” (actually, for free; no money was exchanged) our dashing British art director. We invited readers to write to us and tell us why they wanted to go on a date with him, and the wittiest entrant cracked the nod. Liam and his date, Elisa, were treated to a superb dinner at Park Hyatt Tokyo’s famed New York Grill last month, and to find out what went down, we interviewed the pair about their evening…

Liam, what was it like to be a “rented” gent for dinner?

To be honest, I was nervous to begin with. I’ve never been rented out before and didn’t quite know what to expect or what was expected of me. The evening turned out to be very pleasant indeed, but I don’t think I’ll be changing my day job just yet to be a full-time rental gentleman.

How do you feel about the concept of renting out people in general?

I find the whole concept of people for hire kind of strange and it’s not something I would ever contemplate myself, but after living in Tokyo for a few years I can kind of see why there might be a need for those sorts of services, and why it might make sense for some people.

First impression of Elisa?

When I first met Elisa I was relieved. From the very start of the evening, she seemed cool and easygoing, and I instantly knew this was going to be a super fun evening. Also, Elisa is a very attractive lady which was certainly a very nice bonus.

Best part of the evening?

Sipping delicious after-dinner cocktails, overlooking the stunning Tokyo skyline and explaining the rules of cricket to Elisa.

City view from Park Hyatt Tokyo’s New York Grill

Any awkward moments?

At the beginning of the evening, we were running all over the hotel trying to find a place with suitable lighting for some photographs, which isn’t an ideal start to a date. Also managed to get completely lost on our way out of the hotel and ended up on a completely deserted floor.

Most interesting part of the conversation?

Elisa used to be a semi-professional gamer and has competed for Spain at Gran Turismo, which I thought was cool. She also has an encyclopedic knowledge of British reality TV shows which was pretty impressive.

Your favorite part of the meal at New York Grill?

All the food was amazing, but the Wagyu steak with wasabi puree was extra special.

Did you go for a nightcap? 

Absolutely … It would be a jolly poor show to have dinner at Park Hyatt Tokyo and not check out their world-famous New York Bar. Elisa introduced me to her favorite cocktail, the China Blue, which was awesome. I introduced her to my favorite Martini Espresso. It was the perfect finish to a very pleasant evening.


Elisa, what was it like to “rent” our gent for dinner?

“Renting” a gent was great! Liam was a true gentleman and also had a very good sense of humor, which made the evening very enjoyable. I would totally recommend it (or him!).

How do you feel about the concept of renting out people in general?

Even though it can sound strange in the beginning, I do understand why people would like to use such kinds of services. Sometimes family or friends are not always reliable, and as long as both sides agree on the terms and respect each other, then I do not see any harm in it. However, clear limitations need to be established in order to ensure safety and avoid disappointment.

First impression of Liam?

He was very nice, welcoming and professional. I must say that I wasn’t a fan of beards in men before, but I think I’m changing my mind about it after meeting Liam. [laughs]

Best part of the evening?

We shared many laughs and anecdotes, and Liam was easy to talk to. Plus, the atmosphere at the restaurant and the food were superb. One of the best parts was the chance to listen to live music throughout the whole evening. Priceless.

Any awkward moments?

I wouldn’t say awkward but the beginning was a little tense because we didn’t know each other, but fortunately it was over after five minutes!!

Most interesting part of the conversation?

We had good chats about gaming and British TV shows. Even though I don’t live in the UK, I’m a big fan of both and Liam was impressed about how much I knew about them. Liam also tried to convince me that English tea is better than Irish tea but it didn’t work out. Sorry, Liam!

Your favorite part of the meal at New York Grill?

The wagyu cut was superb. It was so nice and just melted in my mouth. The service was also super friendly and the views from the 52nd floor were just breathtaking.

Did you go for a nightcap?

Yes, we had a few drinks at the bar after dinner. We had a couple of cocktails: China Blue, Martini Espresso and Margarita. The bar connects nicely to the restaurant and is one of the icons of the Lost in Translation movie. I was Scarlett Johansson for a day!

New York Bar at Park Hyatt Tokyo

Rent Anyone in Japan

If you’re looking for that special someone to fill a gap in your life, or would just like a chat, here’s a list of some interesting rental services available.

Ossan Rental

With ossan (middle-aged men) all over the country, you’ll find the one that’s right for you for ¥1,000 an hour. Get some life advice or simply have a chat with one of many types — the house husband, the Tokyo University graduate, the piano teacher, and more. ossanrental.thebase.in

Rental Kareshi

If you’re looking for the perfect guy who says and does all the right things, then look no further. This treasure trove of ikemen (good looking guys) will sweep you off your feet, listen to you pour your heart out, all while looking swoon worthy in the process. rentalkareshi.com

Ikemeso

Ikemeso (short for ikemen mesomeso, the latter being an onomatopoeia for weeping) staff will come to your office and wipe your tears. The service has several add-ons, including anime favorite the kabedon (when a man “seductively” pins a woman to a wall). ikemeso-office.com

Family Romance

This company offers everything from extras for your Instagram shots, couples to stand in as your parents for special occasions, or even a man who will scold you when you’ve done something wrong. family-romance.com

Homeless Kotani

Makoto Kotani, also known as Homeless Kotani, is a cheerful chap who rents himself out for just ¥50 a day. But since he is so cheap, we recommend at least buying the man a meal. yugamigachi.thebase.in

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