I came across an interesting article on a few lesser known social services in Japan:
On the surface, it sounds and feels like another “Japanese culture is weird” observation from the land of the rising sun. Between the otaku and social shut-ins and perverts, there’s ample anecdotes of cultural strangeness that paint the country in an unflattering light. It’s easy to feel like there’s a fundamental flaw in Japanese society and cultural norms.
I don’t think the problems that are these friendship-rental businesses are trying to address, though, are all that unrelatable and alien. In American work culture, work hours have indeed increased, and along with generally having fewer friends with age and now the added ambiguity of friendship over social media, the social skills needed to thrive in modern society is more complex than in decades past. In a way, the straight-forwardness of this social taboo is a more honest characterization.