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Image: Japan's "Do-Nothing Guy" walking through Tokyo

Tokyo’s “Do-Nothing Guy” Shows Us the Power In Being Present for Others

Can somebody do nothing for a living?? Today I’m asking that you open your mind to possibility, because we’re exploring a career path that may not appeal to everyone. But, if you look closely, you’ll see that there is sparkling potential lying underneath the surface of every useless talent out there… so much in fact, that you can turn yourself into a sought after professional.

Let’s start with a little riddle… What is the most valuable resource to all humans? It’s something that dwindles with each passing moment, and it can never be replaced. The answer: time. 

So how do we put a price on time? And how can we make the most of it? For 38-year-old Shoji Morimoto, he prefers to spend his time doing absolutely nothing. And miraculously, he makes a living this way!

Image: Japan's "Do-Nothing Guy" walking through Tokyo
Source: Unsplash

How it works.

After Shoji was belittled by an employer who said his efforts at work were moot, a mentor inspired him to put his most unassuming talent to work for himself. Shoji became inspired to begin offering his services as a Rental Nanmo Shinai Hito, or “Do-Nothing Guy”. 

In Tokyo, clients can rent Shoji’s time for a reasonable fee of 10,000 yen (or $85.00 USD) per session, and all he is expected to do is be present. His clients are responsible for covering expenses such as travel and food, and he only engages in conversation if the other person begins to speak first. 

You may be wondering why anyone would pay for such a thing…when in truth, there are many reasons why someone might need a quiet companion for the day.

If you are a very social person with a hearty group of friends and a large family, you may find this concept difficult to grasp. However, there are a lot of lonely people out there and the COVID pandemic didn’t help the situation for most. In a 2022 global survey, about 33% of adults worldwide experienced feelings of loneliness. 1 Other studies show that social isolation and loneliness can shorten a person’s lifespan by a whopping 15 years and is equal to someone smoking 15 cigarettes a day! 2 Perhaps having someone to go to the movies with could ease that pain a bit?

Say that you do have lots of people in your life, sometimes those relationships can be complicated and messy and you just need a break. Could spending a day with someone that has no expectations of you be the breath of fresh air that you need?

In an article by Reuters, one of Shoji’s customers explains “With my friends I feel I have to entertain them, but with the rental-guy (Morimoto) I don’t feel the need to be chatty,” she said.

The many reasons one might consider renting a Do-Nothing Guy.

Shoji typically has 3 bookings a day and over 419,000 Twitter followers, so clearly people out there are into the idea of seeking a guy-for-hire. 

In some cases you just need a warm body to be present! Need to fill an empty window seat at your new restaurant? What if you made reservations somewhere with a strict waitlist and need someone to go with? Maybe you’re traveling solo and would feel safer visiting a new city with another person? 

This video by BBC Reel gives us a closer look at why Shoji started his business in the first place, and the variety of reasons why one might rent his time. Some of their stories may really surprise you!

Love that video? You can explore more from BBC reel by visiting their YouTube channel.

How does one find purpose in such an “unproductive” passion? 

If you watched the video through to the end, you’ll recall the bit where Shoji remembers helping a woman through her grieving process by simply being there to wear her loved one’s hat and listen to her talk about their memories. To me, it sounds like his presence was very helpful for her. 

Truthfully, we’re all pretty desperate for human connection these days. What that looks like is probably different for each of us. 

And for a guy who does nothing, I bet Shoji has some remarkable stories from his days spent with strangers!

Using our “useless” talents as a way to help others.

The key takeaway here is that everyone has something to contribute, even if it’s not obvious right away. Your “useless” talent, no matter how seemingly insignificant, could be the thing that changes someone else’s life for the better. And if your talent is the uncanny ability to do nothing at all, then here’s your proof that it can still make a difference.

You have a whole universe of possibility inside you. I invite you to look inward at your individual strengths and see what you can make of them! 

Keep dreaming, and notice the beauty around you.


Think your talents are useless? Think again! Here are some articles from our archives about useless talents that will inspire you to hone in on strong points that you never thought there would be a use for.

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  1. Statista. (2022, November 29). Loneliness among adults worldwide by country 2021. Statista. Retrieved February 23, 2023, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/1222815/loneliness-among-adults-by-country/#:~:text=According%20to%20a%20global%20survey,experienced%20feelings%20of%20loneliness%20worldwide
  2. Kroll, M. M. (2022, May 2). Prolonged social isolation and loneliness are equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Extension. Retrieved February 23, 2023, from https://extension.unh.edu/blog/2022/05/prolonged-social-isolation-loneliness-are-equivalent-smoking-15-cigarettes-day#:~:text=According%20to%20the%20National%20Institute,as%20many%20as%2015%20years.
Image: Renee Laroche-Rheaume

Renee Laroche-Rheaume

Outreach Coordinator & Writer

Renee is a graduate of FIDM, and has held jobs in several industries such as apparel manufacturing, retail, professional office work, and even hospitality. Her creative outlook, wide variety of experiences, and desire to notice the beauty around us make her a great addition to the Goodness Exchange team.

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