Raw Japan

Slices of Japanese business, politics and life

Rent-a-guest bulks up weddings


Wedding venue hired? Check. Wedding dress hired? Check. Guests hired? Check.

June’s the big wedding month here in Japan, but even in these tough economic times, instead of opting for a small event, some couples are renting fake family, friends and colleagues to plump up the guest list.

Many in Japan see weddings as a formal event that must be attended by lots of family members, friends and co-workers. At the party, bosses often give JAPAN/speeches, colleagues or friends stage performances, and families formally greet other guests.

But what if you’ve got no one to do that for you?

“We’ll attend the wedding as your friend instead of your friend,” Hiroshi Mizutani, who heads Office Agents, a company in Tokyo that rents out guests, told me.

“Suddenly, a guest might not be able to make it. Or maybe you are concerned about the gap in the number of guests you have compared to your partner. Or, there are many temp workers these days and you may be uncomfortable inviting your boss.”