Speed Reads

i will buy you a new life

This is what it's like to be a professional friend in Japan

"I am the only real father she knows."

That's what Ishii Yuichi, the 36-year-old founder of a Japanese company called Family Romance, told The Atlantic in an interview published Tuesday. Yuichi was speaking about the 12-year-old daughter of a friend who hired him for his acting services.

Yuichi's company provides actors available for hire to portray an array of personal relationships for the client, from father to husband and beyond. Yuichi said he got the idea for his business after he attempted to pose as a father to help a friend's fatherless son get into a private school. Though he failed to win his friend's son admission, the experience inspired him to start Family Romance, which now boasts a roster of 800 actors for hire.

Yuichi still takes on paid roles for his clients himself, though — including his first successful gig, the one as the father of the 12-year-old girl. Yuichi said that eight years later, he is still playing father to the girl, who is now a high school graduate. She does not know that Yuichi is not her true father.

Family Romance offers clients a "more ideal" form of reality, Yuichi told The Atlantic. "I believe the term 'real' is misguided," he said. "Take Facebook, for example. Is that real? Even if the people in the pictures haven't been paid, everything is curated to such an extent that it hardly matters."

Read the full interview at The Atlantic.