Rent-A-Family, Inc.

About This Episode

On the surface, Ryuichi looks like an ordinary, 44-year-old Japanese family man with a wife and two sons, and a good job in the customer service department at a toy factory. Yet unbeknownst to most — including his own family — he moonlights running his own business providing family members, friends and even boss for hire. Ryuichi's Hagemashi-Tai is part of a growing service industry in Japan, where professional stand-ins are rented out to pose as spouses, relatives, friends, to spare embarrassment at social functions such as weddings or family gatherings.

The family-for-rent business suits Ryuichi, who feels at times as if he doesn't fit in his own life. "No one has ever really understood me," he says. With his own company, he can finally be the perfect husband and father he doesn't know how to be at home. Ryuichi is not alone in feeling the strain of living up to the expectations and standards of Japanese society.

Rent-A-Family, Inc. follows Ryuichi in the quest to help others hide a secret as well as his own by leading a secret life as a means of escape. But in the long run, can Ryuichi find fulfillment through his rental business or will he realize that he can be happy in his own life?