Japan offers a rental market for just about everything; pets, prostitutes, and yes, even relatives. Of course, no amount of money will form a tangible blood connection, but the right price will get you someone willing to pretend and fill that void in your life.
Hagemashi Tai, otherwise known as I Want To Cheer Up Limited in English, offers various levels of relationships from distant relations, to spouses, and parents. Distant relatives are played by trained actors, they will be any estranged family member you choose and provide support by filling seats at weddings or funerals, and for some extra cash, they will even make a speech; though a real family member may have to help them out by scripting this part, otherwise the charade just won't hold up when your rental keeps referring to poor Uncle Louie as Aunt Hester.
Naturally the role of spouse or parent is a little more in depth, and may require some form of long-term method acting to get the job done right. Husband services are offered in two forms; a spouse for single mothers who need help at home and trial marriages for brides looking to get a feel for the relationships that their impending nuptials will result in.
The helpful dad is meant to play the role of the perfect, attentive father who listens to the directions provided by his wife. He will take the children to their sports games, help them with their homework, and settle disputes in the neighborhood and at school. Consider him the Stepford wife model for Japanese males. The trial husband's role is a bit vaguer, though his focus is upon his spouse rather than the children. With prostitution being such a popular industry in Japan, one can't help but wonder just what services the husband is expected to perform; after all, couldn't that be one aspect of marriage to set expectations for via the trial spouse? Or will he strictly play the role of the stereotypical male by leaving his dirty socks lying around?
Hagemashi Tai doesn't make it all about the intimate relationships shared between husband and wife, or father and child; it also focuses on the importance of the nurturing and therapeutic benefits of associating with a parent figure into adulthood. I mean come on, who wouldn't be lonely without someone to nag you about when you'll give them grandchildren; how your housekeeping isn't up to par; or how you've made your life into a big disappointment? Of course, there are the supportive aspects too...aren't there?
Feel free to scoff at this rent-a-relative idea for its wackiness, but look at the benefits it can bring for those who are lonely. And better yet, what a job to put on your resume if you're an aspiring actor!