That you can hire handsome young men to pay attention to you in Japan has been established. But did you know you can also pay middle-aged men for their avuncular presence on shopping trips and for life advice? A service called Ossan Rental reportedly has 50-plus customers, mostly female, who pay ¥1000/hour for the company of an ossan, which is a "somewhat rude word for middle-aged dudes," Kotaku reports. The company employs two ossans: a 65-year-old former pro baseball player and a "45-year-old fashion producer that is misunderstood and jiggy," according to a Google translation of the latter's Twitter feed. Japanese blog Nari Nari lists recommended uses for ossans: "Test drive car," "preview new condominium purchase," "lunch with love advice."
I initially assumed Ossan Rental were a respect-for-elders reinvention of Japanese "host clubs," but when I realized ¥1000/hour equates to $10/hour, I lost the ability to assimilate the information entirely. Is it rude to offer a wise elder less money than the average American babysitter makes, just to chill? Or is paying for someone's company always a compliment? Am I undervaluing babysitters? Are ossans babysitters for young adult females who need supervision to test-drive cars?
If you live in or near Tokyo and would like to figure this mystery out, click the "Add to Cart" button on Ossan Rental's website and buy yourself a middle-aged man.