A popular service in Japan lets you rent-a-person to just sort of be there with you, and do nothing else

From the Japanese daily newspaper The Mainichi:

Shoji Morimoto has been advertising himself as a person who can "eat and drink, and give simple feedback, but do nothing more," since June 2018, and has received over 3,000 requests. He has about 270,000 followers on Twitter. Initially he had offered his "rent-a-person who does nothing" services for free, but he now charges 10,000 yen (roughly $96) per request.

People rent him for various reasons. At times he will participate in a gaming session to make up numbers, turn up to send off people who are moving away, accompany those filing for divorce, or listen to health care workers who have become mentally unwell due to their exhausting work.

Morimoto commits to "doing nothing" and basically just gives back-channel feedback when someone speaks to him. "I myself don't like to be cheered on by others. I get upset when people simply tell me keep on trying. When someone is trying to do something, I think the best thing to do is to help lower the bar for them by staying at their side," he explains.

Morimoto's business model is similar to Chuck McCarthy's "People Walker" service from five years ago. Sometimes people just need shallow companionship; even The Atlantic just published a piece mourning the loss of casual relationships in pandemic times. But Morimoto still stands out amongst the pack, because his work as a rent-a-person has even inspired manga in his name.

'Rent-a-person who does nothing' in Tokyo receives endless requests, gratitude [The Mainichi]

Japanese man you can 'rent to do nothing' has thousands of clients [Emily Cope / The Independent]

In Japan, You Can Rent a Person To Do Nothing [Frankie Lantican / Vice]