In the informed streets of Japan, not having a dad is no longer a problem. Not because they’re enlightened, but because you can hire one.
Ryuichi Inchinokawa is a man with daddy issues. In fact, he wants to solve yours. For those of us whose minds zapped to the neon world of swanky dining and hotel rooms by the hour, see me after class. We should get a drink sometime.
Inchinokawa-san is actually the dad you never had. He’s a rent-a-patriarch. For a certain amount of yen, he can walk you down the aisle or not be angry, just disappointed. He’s the big daddy of an entity called “The Heart Project,” who endeavors to fill the gaps caused by life’s accidents. Which is nice.
He does, however, have a litany of rules. Chief to this, is no kissing on the lips. Or indeed, as Ryuichi explained to Bloomberg, “We don’t want clients to use our service as an emotional crutch. We won’t take any illegal requests.” He went on to explain that “about 20 percent to 30 percent of the jobs are for weddings. The next big one is a stand-in for parents and introducing parents to a prospective spouse; that’s another 30 percent to 40 percent. Clients are typically in their 20s to 40s. I take every job with the understanding that we are only doing it once.”
The theory that goosed Ryuichi into the pseudo-dad business was the cultural quirks of his home nation and their enduring romance with appearances. For instance, the lies of sons rap at his door, seeking a girlfriend that he said he had, but didn’t. His service (let’s call it for what it sounds like, an escort agency) also fields requests for attractive bridesmaids-to-order for the discerning vanity-crossed bride to be who has burned all the bridges en route to the church.
Inchinokawa has a staff of a hundred strong, which I’d imagine results in a strange/strangely unique vibe in the office. Are they all apathetic, smoking casually, trading vaguely dirty jokes, dressed in a rainbow of different tuxedos? Does management have KPI? Thanks for coming in, Takeshi, now we’ve noticed that there are far too many dry eyes after your last couple of “Father of the Bride” speeches, so we just need to figure out where you’re going wrong. Okay … pretend I’m today’s bride. Go …
I love you, Japan. Don’t ever change. However, despite the plastic, even questionable morals involved, it seems to have been created on a rather wonderful note. In the words of the man himself, “People who come to us often have no one else to ask. We are their last resort. There are times when I ask myself, What will happen if I don’t help this person? Maybe it will just result in some short-lived embarrassment, or perhaps the damage will be deeper, rippling through their life.”
What a guy.
I can’t wait to call him Daddy.