These models can be booked by the hour for around $4,000 yen (roughly $35) and clients can stipulate their gender, appearance, and age to suit the scene or setting.
For those looking to boost their social media clout, it’s a simple way to populate party scenes with attractive faces, but other suggested uses on the Family Romance website paint an extremely bleak picture of modern Japanese life.
Lonely folk can present the impression of popularity by bulking out birthday party photos. The heartbroken can hire a faux boyfriend or girlfriend to make their ex jealous. People who are too busy for a social life can pretend they spend their weekends on trips with close friends.
Japanese culture is known for prioritizing work above all else — so much so that people are literally working themselves to death, a phenomenon known as Karoshi. It is not unusual for business people to spend their birthdays with coworkers or clients instead of family and friends, and the country’s marriage and birth rates have been on a steady downward slide for years. Real Appeal might be a Band-Aid for the ego, but only genuine connection can cure an epidemic of loneliness.