We’ve had a TV show about nothing. (Seinfeld) Much ado about nothing. (Shakespeare) Now, there’s Japan’s “man who does nothing”, professionally.
Shoji Morimoto didn’t fit into conventional workplaces. He wasn’t so much lazy as purposeless. Bosses told him he lacked initiative yet he had earned an post graduate degree in physics. He’s a musician who played with the Japanese rock band Ladies Room. For a time, he worked as a book editor. One of his supervisors said it made no difference whether he showed up for work or not. He was a misfit who couldn’t find his place in the job market.
So, the married Dad turned his apparent negative into a positive and started renting himself out in Tokyo for the equivalent of $85USD per hour. For that fee and any expenses incurred along the way, he’ll do nothing with you or for you.
Some of his clients are, as expected, lonely and in need of a buddy to accompany them to a dinner or a show. Others have lots of friends and family and hire Shoji for a specific reason. And those reasons vary widely.
PEOPLE IN NEED OF ‘NOTHING’ MAN
Once, a woman who had recently lost her father hired him to recreate a day trip. (He wore the Dad’s hat, as requested.) Shoji has offered a sympathetic ear to another client as she rehearsed a difficult conversation she planned to have with her family. He has gone to a train station and waved goodbye to a client enthusiastically, because she wanted that experience. But he’ll also accompany clients to amusement parks, shopping, festivals – as long as the renter foots the bill, almost anything goes.
However, he has turned down posing nude and house cleaning. After all, cleaning is doing something, and that’s not his jam. His service isn’t completely unique, except for the do-nothing part. Rent A Grandma has been going internationally for years now. But those grannies do a lot, from child minding to care giving to tutoring. Things Shoji won’t do.
A WHOLE LOT OF NOTHING
This business isn’t a gimmick. In a city of 37-million people, he books 1-3 sessions per day. And he has become locally famous, spawning books and a TV show. He claims to do nothing but he found the perfect niche for his special set of skills.
Shoji says his work has taught him a lot about people. He looks at them differently, knowing that despite their outward appearances, everyone has something deep and hidden going on inside. This business has made him more empathetic. He knows he’s capable of helping others who need assistance. And despite his notorious lack of effort, he appears to be doing something about it.