Yahoo News: "For me, the service is a hobby more than anything," says Nishimoto, who first came up with the concept four years ago and who now has a growing network of some 60 men across Japan.
"The initial idea was to improve the image of guys my age, people who might not be spring chickens anymore and not taken so seriously."
"The people who rent me are just asking me to keep them company for an hour or two, mainly to listen to them," he tells AFP between sessions, giving the example of a woman in her 80s who would book him every week for a walk around the local park.
"I almost became like her son," he says.
[T]he people who come to Nishimoto do not suffer from detachment from society or challenges adjusting to it.
Rather, those who use the service say it allows them to forget the expectations of their family and friends and speak freely -- an option which experts say is especially useful in Japan, where social roles can be tightly defined and expectations rigid.
"There's a different 'me' depending on whether I'm with my friends, my family, or my boyfriend," says 24-year-old Nodoka Hyodo after her session with Nishimoto.
She explains: "I create a 'me' in relation to others. Here, all that disappears because I'm talking to someone I don't know -- thanks to him, I feel like I'm understanding myself better."